Stagwell Inc was formed in August 2021 from the acquisition of MDC Partners by smaller rival Stagwell Group. It is a mid-sized North American marketing group, housing a broad portfolio of creative and diversified marketing agencies, headquartered in the US, but with a modest international network. The merger followed several troubled years for once-high-flying MDC Partners. Operating primarily as a venture capital investor, it accumulated stakes in a collection of separately branded, often single-office agencies, several of which gradually developed an international profile. MDC become best known for its shareholdings in three admired US-based creative agencies, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, 72andSunny and Anomaly, each of which also established outposts in Europe and even the Asia Pacific. Another agency - formerly KBS - was merged into Swedish agency Forsman & Bodenfors, with all offices adopting the latter's name. Other subsidiaries include fashion specialist Laird & Partners, Detroit-based Doner and media agency Assembly, as well as a sizeable collection of other agencies, mostly operating below the radar of the main industry. The key benefit MDC originally offered its partner agencies was an upfront payout for their shares. Beyond that, businesses were left with operational independence, including the freedom not to work with each other to grow faster or more efficiently. Gradually, though, MDC was forced to encourage synergies between its various subsidiaries; but after several years of rapid growth, the group ran into a succession of increasingly serious problems in the 2010s. An SEC investigation into expenses claims filed by founder Miles Nadal led to his abrupt departure in 2015; soon afterwards, the rapid growth curve began to stall, and in 2018 MDC finally launched a strategic review. That led to the effective takeover of the group by industry veteran Mark Penn, who became CEO and controlling shareholder in Spring 2019. As a result, MDC was partnered by Penn's then-separate Stagwell Group roll-up, with its own roster of agencies, of which the best known are perhaps Code & Theory, Harris Research and Observatory (formerly CAA Marketing). Eventually, in mid 2020, Stagwell launched an offer to buy MDC outright, but this took almost a year to complete, in part as a result of stiff opposition from some MDC shareholders. The merger was finally approved in June 2021 and completed in early August. MDC's combined revenues hit a high of $1.51bn in 2017, before slipping back over the next three years. Net revenue for 2020 was just $1.0bn, and the group reported a net attributable loss of $229m. In more than 20 years, MDC Partners reported a net annual profit on just two occasions. Stagwell Group reported revenues of $633m in 2020 and net income of $71.5m.
Capsule checked 9th August 2021
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Stagwell (MDC Partners) quarterly organic growth since 2017 See chart (subscribers only)
Who are the clients of MDC Partners? See individual agency profiles below for more
Who are the competitors of MDC Partners? See ranking of Leading Global Marketing Groups
Historical profile information for MDC Partners
Adbrands Update 5th Aug 2022: For the second consecutive quarter, Stagwell headed the group rankings for organic growth. A lift of 16.0% was well beyond next best performer Havas (at 11.5%). Reported revenues for the quarter were $673m, with net income of $10.5m.
Adbrands Update 16th May 2022: With all results now in, Stagwell delivered the industry's best performance for the quarter with organic growth of 23.6%. Omnicom was the best of the majors at 11.9%, followed by Interpublic at 11.5% and Havas at 11.4%. A little way behind was Publicis (despite its string of account wins) with 10.5%, followed by WPP at 9.5% and then Dentsu with 9.1%.
Adbrands Update 9th May 2022: With only Dentsu left to declare, Stagwell is the star performer to-date among global marketing groups for Q1 2022. The group claimed combined pro forma organic growth of 23.6% - more than twice any of its larger rivals - to net reported revenues of $527m, net income for the quarter grew more than sixfold to $33.6m. "The merger [of the old Stagwell with MDC Partners] has spurred revenue synergies immediately apparent in the big wins, significant industry awards, and integration of talent and technology across our network," said chairman-CEO Mark Penn. The best performing businesses were Stagwell's media division - up 40% organic- and communications (including advocacy) up 32%.
Adbrands 10th Mar 2022: With all financial results now in, Dentsu headed the rankings table by organic growth in Q4 at 14.2%, followed by Interpublic at 11.7%. Stagwell comes next at 11.3% followed by WPP at 10.8%, Omnicom at 9.5% and finally Publicis and Havas both at 9.3%. Most observers might wonder how Publicis - given its seemingly endless catalogue of account gains in recent months - has managed to end up with the industry's lowest organic growth metric for this quarter. The answer can only be that Publicis is gaining billings at the cost of organic revenue growth; in other words, by undercutting rival groups in the fees it charges.
Adbrands Update 9th Mar 2022: The enlarged Stagwell - now incorporating MDC Partners - was among the last groups to report figures for 4Q and FY 2021. Needless to say, Stagwell's reported revenues soared as a result of the absorption of MDC, almost reaching $1.5bn for the full year. Combined pro forma net revenues for the full year, had the merger taken place on January 1st, would have been $1.9bn. That's up around 60% on MDC's pre-merger figure, but doesn't really change the combined group's ranking within the global table, as the 14th largest marketing group after Cheil. Equally sharp rises in costs as well as impairments cut net profit for the year to $21.0m. Stagwell reported organic growth for the final quarter of 11.3% and 14.5% for the full year. That metric would have been significantly higher (21.2% and 18.0% respectively) excluding Stagwell's advocacy businesses which enjoyed a huge surge around the US 2020 Presidential election, followed by a massive decline in 2021.
Adbrands Update 20th Jan 2022: In a further overhaul of its enlarged agency portfolio, Stagwell announced the merger of former MDC agency Media Kitchen into its own significantly larger MMI unit. The combined agency will retain the MMI name, and will continue to be led by MMI CEO Maggie Malek. Media Kitchen was originally an offshoot of Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, one of MDC Partners' earliest acquisitions, and itself absorbed into what is now Forsman & Bodenfors in 2018.
Adbrands Update 4th Jan 2022: Stagwell strengthened its presence in the UK with the buyout of admired independent media agency Goodstuff for an undisclosed sum. It is one of the first significant acquisitions made by Stagwell since its takeover of MDC partners. Goodstuff becomes part of the global Stagwell Media Network. Founding partners Ben Hayes and Andrew Stephens have agreed to stay with the business for at least five years as part of their earn-out.
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