Ascential plc, which owns the Cannes Lions advertising festival, revealed Tuesdsay that it has agreed to acquire MediaLink. The acquisition price depends on MediaLink’s performance from 2017 through 2019, and is capped at $207 million, though the companies expect the final consideration will be closer to $121 million. Read the release.
MediaLink's unaudited revenue in 2016 was $54 million, growing 29% year over year, and the stakeholders expect the transaction to close within a month.
Founded in 2003 by its CEO Michael Kassan, MediaLink has about 120 employees and numerous lines of business, including assisting with investor strategy, data and tech activation and implementation, talent searching, business acceleration and marketing optimization.
“Ascential brought the opportunity for international expansion and the expansion of our product set,” Kassan told AdExchanger. Despite the impending acquisition, MediaLink will still be run independently, he added.
MediaLink will immediately open offices in London and Hong Kong, expanding on its US locations in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. “We’ve been servicing those areas across the pond,” Kassan said. The company is also looking at potential acquihires and acquisitions to strengthen its offering in those regions.
While MediaLink’s information strategy services are its foundation – and its biggest lines of business – it is particularly well known for its ubiquitous presence at trade shows such as CES, the Cannes Lions, DMEXCO and Advertising Week, where it hosts dinners, parties and events where invitees can make key connections with industry heavy hitters.
“The first events we did were CES, and Cannes morphed from there,” Kassan said. “It became a real important part of our business. We understood early what can happen at a tent pole event, if you bring disparate parties together in a room.”
Kassan recalled his introduction to Ascential CEO Duncan Painter in 2015, at a Cannes event, amid a small crowd of people.
“I thought you owned Cannes,” someone said.
“I just rent it from Duncan,” Kassan joked.
It was the first steps down a path that eventually led to Painter approaching Kassan about acquiring MediaLink. “I’ve always been a believer that no one should ride on a highway without seeing an exit sign,” Kassan told AdExchanger. “While I wasn’t looking to sell the company, and we have a lot of growth and wind at our back, it’s a good time as we look to expand.”
And because Ascential owns the Cannes Lions and the financial tech show Money 20/20, there’s now a greater opportunity for MediaLink’s business connecting power players by also tapping into Ascential’s connections.
At CES, MediaLink launched a track around private equity, investors and bankers – and Kassan intends to bring their perspectives to the upcoming Cannes Lions as well.