Syzygy ranks among the leading digital agencies in Germany, where it operates five offices. There are also offices in London, New York and Warsaw. It was for many years notionally independent, publicly quoted in Germany, but effectively controlled by WPP, its biggest shareholder with a 30% stake. In 2015, WPP raised its holding to just over 50% through a public tender; most of the rest of equity is still publicly traded, and Syzygy remains a standalone unit within WPP. Separate UK brands Unique Digital and Hi-ReS were absorbed into the umbrella Syzygy brand in 2019 but creative production unit Ars Thanea continues to operate separately. During 2017, the agency also took control of German strategy consultancy Different. The agency was originally founded in Germany in 1995 as United Media. It was spun off from then-parent 1&1 Holdings, and agreed a three-way merger in 2000 with London-based shop Syzygy (launched 1994), whose name it adopted, and French agency NetForce, part-owned by HighCo of France. WPP was already a shareholder in all three companies. United Media co-founder Marco Seiler led the group as CEO for more than 20 years and was named Agency Man of the Year by trade magazine HorizonT in 2014. He stepped down in 2016 to launch management consultancy NEA, and was replaced at Syzygy by former Google and WPP executive Lars Lehne. Lehne himself departed in March 2020 and was eventually replaced by Franziska von Lewinski, though she will not join the company until Jan 2021. In the mean time, the agency is led by chief technology officer Frank Ladner and CFO Erwin Greiner. Group revenues hit a new high of €65.3m in 2018, before slipping back in 2019 to €64.2m, with net income of €3.2m. Germany contributed 75% of revenues, and the UK around 15%.
Capsule checked 31st August 2020
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Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Nov 2015: WPP secured a narrow majority in its tender for German digital agency Syzygy in which it already owned a minority stake. At the end of the second offer period, it has accumulated just under 50.5% of equity.
Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Oct 2015: The board of German digital agency Syzygy has unexpectedly given its support to an offer from WPP to increase its shareholding from the current 30% to a majority position. German trade press had initially scorned the WPP offer since it offered virtually no premium to Syzygy's current share price. However, thin trading volumes have made it very hard for existing shareholders to deal in the stock. The WPP offer provides a valuable exit route that night not otherwise have been available. Syzygy's insider shareholders have now pledged to sell their own combined holdings, equivalent to around 7% of equity. Other minority holders are likely to follow suit.
Adbrands Weekly Update 20th Aug 2015: WPP has offered to increase its stake in publicly quoted German-based digital network Syzygy. It already has a 30% investment holding in the business and has offered to acquire additional outstanding shares at a price of €9 per, only marginally above the stock's recent trading range. WPP justified its comparatively low-ball offer by pointing out the minimal daily trading volumes of Syzygy stock. Its offer allows current minor shareholders to cash in more easily than if they were to offer their stock in the open market.
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