Syzygy : advertising & marketing assignments

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Syzygy ranks among the leading digital agencies in two key European markets of Germany and the UK. There are also offices in Poland and the US. It has been until recently notionally independent, publicly quoted in Germany, but effectively controlled for several years 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. The group offers digital creative services under the main Syzygy brand - which operates four offices in Germany as well as one in London - as well as online media through subsidiary UK unit Unique Digital. Hi-ReS is a digital design studio in the UK, partnered by Ars Thanea in New York and Warsaw. During 2017, the agency took control of two additional German agencies: strategy consultancy Different and digital performance specialist Catbird Seat. Syzygy 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 consulrancy NEA, and was replaced at Syzygy by former Google and WPP executive Lars Lehne. Group revenues hit a new high of €65.3m in 2018. Germany contributed almost two-thirds of revenues, and the UK around a quarter. The agency was originally founded in Germany in 1995 as United Media, and agreed a three-way merger five years later 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.

Capsule checked 9th January 2019

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Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

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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