Publicis Groupe today announced it has entered into an agreement with Alliance Data Systems Corporation (NYSE: ADS) under which Publicis Groupe will acquire Alliance Data's Epsilon business for a net purchase price of $3.95 billion after tax step-up (total cash consideration of $4.40bn) and build a strategic partnership with Alliance Data remaining business. This acquisition will accelerate the implementation of Publicis' strategy to become the preferred transformation partner for its clients.
The Directoire (Management Board) and the Conseil de Surveillance (Supervisory Board) of Publicis Groupe have unanimously approved this transaction considering it a one-time opportunity to seize, given the evolution of the industry and the implying transformation of marketing solutions.
Arthur Sadoun, Chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe, said:
"Our clients are facing increasing pressure from the rise in consumer expectations, the mainstreaming of direct-to-consumer brands and new data regulations. The only response is to deliver personalized experiences at scale. They have to transform to meet this new market imperative.
With the acquisition of Epsilon, Publicis Groupe is bringing the necessary technology, expertise and the talent to complement our offer in creativity, media and business transformation, and help our clients leapfrog their competition and grow profitably.
In 2018 with an unprecedented run of major New Business wins, we demonstrated that we have the right model to be the preferred partner of our clients in their transformation. This acquisition will accelerate its implementation, turbo-charge our game changers and help us grow faster by offering an even more end-to-end solution to our clients.
With this critical move, we are going further, faster and deeper in our own transformation, becoming a leader in this data-led, digital-first world. It's a one-time opportunity, with very compelling financial terms and delivering double-digit accretion of Headline EPS and Free Cash Flow from Year 1 (2020).
We are thrilled to welcome Epsilon's remarkable teams and look forward to working together for our clients and growing our relationship with Alliance Data."
Edward J. Heffernan, Alliance Data Systems' President and CEO, said:
"I'm pleased to say today's announcement represents a trifecta win for Alliance Data, Epsilon and Publicis Groupe. The announcement of this transaction represents the culmination of an extensive assessment of strategic options for our Epsilon business. With this transaction, we have found what we believe to be the right home for Epsilon's technology, data assets and associates.
Publicis Groupe will be the ideal cultural and strategic fit for Epsilon and its Conversant business, and will help drive Publicis Groupe's own transformation in today's data-driven digital world.
Furthermore, the unique relationships that have been cultivated between Epsilon and our other Alliance Data businesses will remain intact, and we look forward to working with Publicis Groupe to develop an even broader relationship promoting mutual and sustainable growth going forward."
Maurice Lévy, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Publicis, said:
"The Conseil de Surveillance has thoroughly and carefully reviewed this transaction and has approved it unanimously considering that it would be good for all stakeholders.
For the clients: it will accelerate the transformation of Publicis making it a more relevant and more competitive partner.
For the talents: in a highly competitive environment for talents, Publicis will be in a position to benefit from a remarkable leadership team, 3 700 data scientists and great technology teams and artificial intelligence experts.
For our shareholders: the transaction, which was not planned, has great merits from a financial point of view. The price is fair, the transaction is headline EPS and Free Cash Flow accretive at double digit level, it gives a stronger profile of growth and a new and better balanced mix of product and revenues. Therefore, it will generate value creation that will greatly benefit our shareholders.
The Conseil de Surveillance has been convinced by the approach of the Directoire and its Chairman and CEO, Arthur Sadoun, on the integration. The plan is reasonable and should lead to a seamless integration with great potential in growth and cost synergies. We are confident that the plan will deliver the expected results on services, growth and synergies."
Epsilon: a technology leader maximizing the value of its clients' data at scale
Headquartered in the US, Epsilon is a unique technology and platform company focusing on maximizing the value of its clients' data. In 2018, Epsilon generated $1.9 billion of net revenue (3), 97% in the United States. Epsilon employs approximately 9,000 employees, including 3,700 data scientists and 2,000 Bangalore-based technology delivery experts.
Epsilon's expertise spans across the entire data lifecycle from client's first-party raw data to personalized marketing campaigns, using technology, data and platforms to:
Onboard client first-party data using Epsilon's proprietary software suite (CRM, email and loyalty programs) to create a clean, normalized and organized data set
Bryan Kennedy, CEO of Epsilon, said:
"We are thrilled to join the Publicis Groupe family. During extensive discussions with the Publicis leadership team during the recent review process, we found powerful common ground, including shared values and a strong vision for the future of data-driven, digital-first marketing.
Our discussions illuminated the unmistakable market opportunity that combining our complementary offerings would represent. I strongly believe that joining Publicis will benefit Epsilon and Conversant's people and bring great value and new opportunity to the clients we serve."
An acceleration of Publicis strategy to become the preferred partner to clients in their transformation
In today's fast changing environment, clients are shifting their investments towards data/technology- driven marketing solutions which allow them to foster customer engagement, support growth and reduce costs.
Publicis has set a clear ambition to combine creativity, data and technology to address its clients' needs and become a leader in marketing and business transformation. This model has been gaining momentum as exemplified by Publicis Groupe's #1 position in New Business ranking in 2018 and the growth of its "Game Changers".
Today, the acquisition of Epsilon is a one-time opportunity to accelerate the implementation of Publicis' strategy to deliver personalized experience at scale.
With Epsilon at the core, Publicis will become the first player to offer a unique end-to-end services to its clients. It will result in enhanced growth of its existing businesses while opening up new opportunities in an enlarged $1.5 trillon industry.
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