* Archive page for historical reference only. This profile is no longer being actively updated. See active page here *

Dentsu Aegis Network

Profile subscribers click here for full profile

Dentsu Aegis Network is the umbrella for all international operations of Japanese marketing giant Dentsu. It was formed in Spring 2013 from the merger of the existing Dentsu Network entity with newly acquired UK-based marketing group Aegis plc, whose biggest subsidiary was the worldwide media network Carat. Uniquely among the top tier of marketing companies, Aegis had for almost its entire history had no traditional advertising network within its portfolio, operating instead as a media independent organisation. Nevertheless, the group built up a collection of other interests over the years including the digital network Isobar and market researcher Synovate (later sold), as well as second-string media agency Vizeum. Its effective independence made the group a prime candidate for takeover from 2005 onwards. Several bidders made formal or informal offers, but the most persistent suitor was Vincent Bolloré, chairman of rival group Havas, who became the biggest shareholder in Aegis, with the unspoken goal of encouraging a merger of the two groups. However, his repeated attempts to win a seat on the Aegis board were rebuffed, and he eventually abandoned the idea of combining Aegis and Havas in 2011. Instead, the following year, Bolloré gave his support to a proposed takeover of Aegis by Dentsu for £3.2bn (approx $5bn).


See the Leading Media Agency Brands worldwide

Brands & Activities

Although Aegis has long promoted independence as one of its main strengths, that independence finally came to an end in 2013. For several years, the group had been perceived as a takeover target. Vincent Bolloré's repeated attempts to merge Aegis with Havas were ultimately frustrated. Instead, Dentsu agreed in 2012 to acquire the group at a valuation of £3.2bn. That offer was accepted by Bolloré and the Aegis board, as well as Aegis shareholders. However, completion of the deal was delayed for several months by a protracted review by regulators in China, virtually the only global market where Carat and Dentsu both already had a significant presence. Permission was finally granted in March 2013.

As a result, Aegis was merged into Dentsu's existing international umbrella and adopted the new name of Dentsu Aegis Network. It is still headquartered in London.

By the time of the Dentsu deal, Aegis operated in just one area: traditional and digital media management. Collectively its subsidiary brands formed the world's #4 media buying group. There are four networks, of which the biggest by far is Carat. Vizeum was created in 2003 as a second-string media network, bringing together a collection of previously standalone local media shops. That network has been expanded further through selective acquisition. The group's digital operations are housed under the the Isobar and iProspect banners.

Aegis's fourth media brand is outdoor specialist Posterscope, now with a presence in 20 countries and billings of over $2bn. Following the acquisition of rival Concord in 2005 it became the undisputed leader in the UK market with more than 42% share. There are outposts of Posterscope in several major European and Asia markets, and the business operated until recently under the Outdoor Vision name in the US. It was rebranded as Posterscope during 2006. Much of the combined group's bulk inventory trading passes through standalone unit Amplifi.

In 2015, the group agreed to acquire leading UK contract publishing house John Brown Media for an undisclosed sum.

The group has also developed a solid position in branded sports and entertainment experiences. The heart of this business is MKTG, originally a US "lifestyle marketing" agency acquired in 2014. DAN has expanded this business globally through selective acquisitions, and with the merger into MKTG of its existing sports marketing agency Team Epic. As of early 2016, MKTG had eight offices in the US and another 12 in 10 other countries.

In early 2016, the group developed its presence in B2B marketing with the repositioning of the former Carat Enterprise business media unit as a full-service network under the name Interprise. A few months later, it expanded that division dramatically with a deal to acquire independent network Gyro, which will now absorb Interprise to create an extensive global network. US-based data marketing giant Merkle was added a few weeks later, and then multicultural agency Gravity Media at the end of the year.

A second business had already been divested by the time Dentsu made its offer for Aegis. Between 2000 and 2011, the group built up what was eventually the world's 6th largest market research group, through a series of acquisitions around the globe. This business adopted the umbrella name Synovate in 2002, although it continued to operate a separately branded regional units. The core business was US-based marketing research consulting firm Market Facts, accompanied by several other separately branded units including Asia Market Intelligence, Pegram Walters in the UK; MEMRB in Central and Eastern Europe; and Demoscopie in France. The group as a whole had particular strengths in healthcare, automotive research, loyalty programs and consumer emotional attitudes to brands and services. Gross revenues totalled £573m in 2010, with operating profit of £46m. Most units were merged into their counterparts within Ipsos following the sale in 2011.

The Aegis assets were combined with Dentsu Network's existing international businesses. These include McGarryBowen and Dentsu Americas, both based in the North America; and a collection of media agencies across the Asia Pacific region under the banner of Dentsu Media.


After a bleak financial performance in 2001, in which profits slumped by 80%, Aegis was back on track a year later and has generally continued to perform strongly ever since. Revenues broke the £1bn level for the first time in 2007, and rose by a further 21% in 2008 to £1.3bn. In 2009, reported revenues were more or less unchanged, mainly as a result of exchange rate fluctuation. In organic terms, at constant currency and excluding acquisitions, the total declined almost 9%.

For 2010, revenues rose 8% to just under £1.5bn, equivalent to an organic increase of 6% for the year, rising to 7% in the final quarter. However, breaking the pattern set by the other groups, pretax profits plunged to £34m, their lowest level for five years. The cause was a £91m impairment charge covering several areas. The most significant was a £37m debtor impairment against a client in Spain which had filed for insolvency. There were also losses on the disposal of businesses in the US and Europe as a well as amortisation of intangible assets held by newly acquired Mitchell. Excluding all these and other items, underlying operating profit rose 13% year-on-year. Turnover (effectively billings) was £10.6bn, up 9% on the year before.

The group reported another year of strong growth in 2011, following the divestment of Synovate. Turnover (or billings) rose 18% to £11.86bn, while comparable revenues jumped by almost 21% (or 19.6% at constant currency rates) to £1.14bn. The biggest contributor to that increase was Mitchell & Partners, in its first full year within the group. Yet the overall organic growth rate also outclassed the other major groups at 9.9% for the year, rising to 12% in the final quarter. Net profits quadrupled to £165m, including an £84m gain from Synovate. Yet even without that lift, pretax profits from continuing operations more than tripled. Performance has continued to soar during 2012, not least following the capture of General Motors consolidated global media account at the beginning of the year.

Combined group revenues from media rose 21% in 2011 to £1.07bn. A little under 60% of that total was generated in the EMEA region, with the remainder split equally between the Americas and Asia Pacific. Operating profits were £209m. The group claimed net new billings of $2.7bn in 2011 (compared to $2.0bn in 2010, $2.7bn in 2009, $922m in 2008, $1.7bn in 2007 and $2.7bn in 2006). Digital accounted for 35% of media income. No report was published for 2012.


The senior management group within Aegis was rocked during 2008 by a series of abrupt and apparently unplanned changes. These culminated with the sudden departure of Robert Lerwill as group CEO in November 2008. Non-executive chairman John Napier, who had himself arrived at the group only five months earlier, replaced him on an interim basis as CEO. Jerry Buhlmann was eventually named as group CEO in March 2010. Nigel Sharrocks moved up to chief executive of the Aegis Media division at the beginning of 2011, but announced his resignation from summer 2013. He was succeeded by Peter Huijboom, now CEO, media brands & global clients.

Following the takeover by Dentsu, the latter's international CEO Tim Andree was named as executive chairman of the newly created Dentsu Aegis Network. Buhlmann remained CEO until Nov 2018. He remained a special adviser to the group for a period, but Tim Andree became CEO of DAN. However, he took temporary leave of absence in early 2020 for health reasons. Group CEO Toshihiro Yamamoto added oversight of Dentsu Aegis Network pending Andree's return. He is expected to return to the role of chairman during 2020. However, former DDB CEO Wendy Clark will join the group in Sept 2020 as the new CEO of DAN.


See Carat profile for early history. Completion of the deal with Dentsu brought to an end several years of uncertainty regarding the ultimate fate that might befall Aegis. During 2005, both Publicis and WPP were said to be considering break-up bids for the company. However these plans were foiled when Vincent Bolloré accumulated the largest individual shareholding in the company between August and November 2005. He had plans of his own to merge Aegis with rival Havas, which he already controlled. Yet despite building a stake of just under 30% of Aegis's equity by 2007, four separate attempts to appoint two of his supporters as directors were vetoed by Aegis shareholders, who backed the board's view that this would represent a conflict of interest, because of his role Havas chairman.

Meanwhile, Aegis made several deals of its own. In 2010, it agreed to acquire Australia's biggest media buyer, family-controlled Mitchell & Partners, for around $325m. That deal made founder Harold Mitchell the second largest shareholder in Aegis after Vincent Bolloré. It also diluted Bolloré's holding down to a little over 26%. As a result, Bolloré took the decision to abandon plans to merger the two companies, and said he would ultimately sell his shares. Developments during 2011 indicated a complete change in the future of Aegis. At the end of July, it agreed to accept an offer from rival Ipsos of £525m for its research division Synovate, making Aegis a smaller and more tightly focused media investment business. That eventually prompted the offer from Dentsu.

Last full revision 23rd August 2018

* Archive page for historical reference only. This profile is no longer being actively updated. See active page here *

All rights reserved © Mind Advertising Ltd 1998-2022