One Equity Partners makes significant investment in MSQ to fuel next growth stage

We are delighted to announce that MSQ has been acquired by the leading international private equity firm One Equity Partners (OEP). OEP will become the group’s leading shareholder, with MSQ’s senior management and existing private equity investor, LDC, reinvesting as minority partners.

The deal will allow MSQ to accelerate our ambitious growth strategy with a focus on further international expansion particularly in the USA and Europe – where OEP’s presence makes it the perfect partner. This will be delivered through a continued emphasis on acquisitions and organic growth, a key driver in MSQ more than doubling our revenues over the past four years to more than £125m. A number of potential add-on acquisitions have already been identified and are under evaluation.

The investment will also allow us as a group to build out our data-driven and tech-enabled model, which combined with our stand-out creative capabilities, provides clients with differentiated, end-to-end solutions, in today’s increasingly digital platform world.

Since 2019, MSQ has grown EBITDA from £6m to in excess of £20m, made five acquisitions, rolled out our multi-disciplinary offering internationally and doubled our team to 1,200 colleagues working across America, Asia and Europe. We’ve added significant senior hires and attracted major new clients such as Booking,com, The AA, Zalando, Vitality, CFA Institute, Reckitt and Akzo Nobel. 

MSQ combines the best tech and creative capabilities into one multi-disciplinary offer to deliver across the full range of a client’s C-suite priorities or through engaging specialist standalone services through our 11 agencies. Our agencies include Brave Spark (creative production studio), Elmwood (branding & design), Freemavens (research & insights), MMT (Web & Digital Product Development), Smarts (PR and creative), MBAstack (CRM and Customer Engagement), Miri Growth (mobile marketing), Stein IAS (B2B marketing), The Gate (creative and media), Walk-In Media) (full-service media) and 26 (full-service digital). The Be Heard Group (Freemavens, MMT and Agenda21 which is now part of Walk-In Media), Brave Spark, Elmwood, MBA (now part of MBAstack) and Miri Growth have all joined MSQ since 2019, as well as start-up agency, Walk-In Media.   

Peter Reid, CEO of MSQ, said: “It’s been a highly successful four years at MSQ and there is huge potential and ambition to do more to build on our capabilities and footprint to enhance existing client relationships, attract new business and retain, develop and grow our team. 

“The structure of the deal and the players involved will give us access to greater resources to extend our global offering, invest in talent, technology and services and position ourselves as the leading next generation partner for the world’s leading and most ambitious brands through the continued successful integration of insight, data, technology and creative.

“We are really excited about the future ahead with One Equity Partners and are equally pleased that LDC is set to continue with us on this next stage of our journey.”

Dr. Jörg Zirener, Senior Managing Director of One Equity Partners, said: “MSQ’s business model and strategy provides a fantastic platform for future growth and we look forward to working with the excellent team there in accelerating the vision of creating a leading international digital, tech and creative group.

“With our experience and successful track record in buy-and-build transactions as well as our international set-up, we feel that we are well positioned to help management of MSQ to develop the company into one of the leading global digital agencies.”

John Clarke, Investment Director at LDC, added: “MSQ is a phenomenal business and it’s been great to work alongside Peter and his team as they’ve built one of the most dynamic international groups in the market.  There is still so much more to come for MSQ and our ongoing investment is testament to that and the quality of the team onboard.  We’re looking forward to seeing what’s next in store!”

In addition to Peter Reid, MSQ’s Executive Board includes CFO Dan Yardley who has been with the Group for 10 years, former MEC Global CEO Charles Courtier, former Dentsu Executive Director Kate Howe, MMT founder Ben Rudman and ex-Kantar Executive Bart Michels.

Last month we announced that MSQ has achieved B Corp certification across the entire Group, demonstrating our commitment to be a force for good and belief that people and the planet are as equally important as profit. MSQ’s certification means that the group meets a number of social and environmental standards covering five key impact areas of governance, environment, workers, community and customers.

MSQ and LDC were advised by Houlihan Lokey (CF) and Squire Patton Boggs (Legal), with legal advice also provided to MSQ through Browne Jacobson.