For the Aegis Group, time really is money. Aegis is one of Europe's largest media services firms, providing clients with ad space and airtime through its Carat, Velocity, and Posterscope agencies. Covering media planning and buying, interactive media, outdoor marketing, sports marketing, and sponsorships, its media services account for about 60% of revenues. In addition, its Isobar unit operates as a global digital advertising network. In order to focus exclusively on its media services operations, Aegis sold Synovate, its former market research subsidiary, to French research firm Ipsos SA in late 2011. French corporate raider Vincent Bolloré owns around 26% of the company.
Synovate was sold to SA in a transaction valued at £525 million ($861.2 million). Aegis is using the portion of the proceeds from the sale to invest in its digital media business and increase its penetration in emerging markets.
Before that deal was announced, Aegis had been working on cutting costs due to the weaker market conditions present throughout 2008 and 2009. It reduced its workforce by about 5% across 40 countries in 2008 and by 8% in 2009. Although its revenue levels gradually increased from 2008 to 2010, the company saw its net income plunge 47% (from $120 million to $64 million) over that same time period. As it attempts to return its balance sheet to previous levels of profitability, Aegis has returned to its acquisitive ways in order to grow its business amid signs that the advertising market is recovering.
In mid-2011 it broadened its performance marketing capabilities through the purchase of Qualite Search Marketing, a firm with search engine marketing, social media, and web analytics expertise based in Norway. Shortly after, it swallowed up MediaVest (Manchester) Ltd., a media planning and buying agency based in the UK.
Aegis in 2010 obtained Mitchell Communication Group, a media buyer and market researcher based in Australia. The deal -- worth some A$363 million ($325 million) -- fit with its strategy to expand its geographic reach into the growing Asia/Pacific market, and to strengthen its digital holdings.
To strengthen its exposure in a the high-growth Chinese market, in early 2010 Aegis entered a joint venture with Charm Communications, the biggest broker for China's state broadcaster, China Central Television. Aegis bought 16% of Charm Communications and sees the move as a key part of its growth strategy since China was one of the only countries to experience advertising growth during the Great Recession. – less