British marketing firm to acquire majority stake in Merkle Group Inc.

Dentsu Aegis Network, a British marketing and communications firm, has announced plans to acquire a majority stake in Merkle Group Inc., a Columbia-based marketing agency.

The deal, worth about $1.5 billion and expected to close by the end of September, comes after years of rapid growth for Merkle.


In a little over two years, Merkle has acquired seven companies in deals worth more than $300 million and added 1,000 employees — giving the company a total workforce of 3,400 in the United States and abroad.

Merkle reported revenue of $436 million in 2015, up 14 percent from the year before.

Dentsu Aegis is acquiring a majority stake in Merkle as it looks to expand its digital capabilities. Merkle specializes in using data analysis and other technology to aid clients' online advertisements.

"The growth of the digital economy is one of the few certainties in an uncertain world. Merkle brings a powerful range of data-led, fully addressable and real time capabilities," Dentsu Aegis CEO Jerry Buhlmann said in a statement. "The combination of our two businesses will create a compelling offer in that context for existing and potential clients."

For Merkle, the deal is a way to continue its international growth. The company has in recent years expanded its global footprint through acquisitions, including Periscopix and DBG in London, and Comet Global Consulting, which has international offices in London and Barcelona.

"Becoming a part of Dentsu Aegis Network further strengthens our position and allows us to accelerate our goal of being a world-class global performance marketing agency," said David Williams, Merkle chairman and CEO, in a statement.

Merkle has 16 offices in the United States and international outposts in London, Bristol, Barcelona, Shanghai and Nanjing.