Ipsos has agreed to acquire Synovate for £525m (EUR 595m), creating the world's third largest market research company. The deal is to be funded with cash, new debt financing, and a rights offering to Ipsos shareholders.
Last month, the Aegis Board confirmed it was planning to sell Synovate to Ipsos in an 'exclusive' deal.
Ipsos says that the merger with Synovate will provide experienced research experts, enhanced geographic footprint and delivery of a wider suite of research tools and products. It will also 'significantly enhance' the group's capabilities, with benefits coming from global negotiations with suppliers, pooling of production centres and in-sourcing, consolidation of online panels, communication, IT and other 'organisational efficiencies'.
The deal excludes the retail scan data services division Synovate Aztec, which will now be run separately as part of Aegis Media.
Commenting on the transaction, Ipsos Co-President Didier Truchot said: 'This deal will meet our goals to make Ipsos a worldwide brand, synonymous with excellence in each of its fields of specialisation and better able to attract and keep clients. I look forward to welcoming the Synovate team to Ipsos and together creating a global powerhouse in market research, with the best talent in the industry.'
Synovate's CEO Robert Philpott added his senior management team's support of the deal, and says he looks forward to working with Ipsos in the future.
The transaction is conditional upon the approval of the disposal by Aegis' shareholders, and Aegis has already received an 'irrevocable undertaking' from Vincent Bolloré, its 26.5% shareholder, that he will vote in favour of the deal.
Should the sale agreement be terminated by either party, a fee of £7.87m will be payable. However, closing is expected to occur on or around 30 September 2011.
Following this, Aegis intends to return £200m of the sale proceeds to shareholders, and use the balance to provide 'increased financial flexibility' to allow for investment in future acquisitions.
Yesterday, reports in the UK press hinted that Publicis and WPP are both planning to make bids for the remainder of Aegis, once it has completed the sale of Synovate.
Web sites: www.aegisplc.com , www.synovate.com and www.ipsos.com .