‘If you want to be relevant you need to be about diversity’
Earlier this year Dick van Motman sat down with former Mumbrella Asia editor Robin Hicks to talk about his approach to making acquisitions, the secret to making a merger work, and how the marriage between Dentsu and Aegis is working out. What follows is a short excerpt of this interview.
Dentsu Aegis has acquired many companies in a short space of time. What’s your approach to making acquisitions?
I think it looks like a lot in a short amount of time. In terms of the number of deals, yes, we’re suddenly up there [Van Motman referred to the M&A league table compiled in R3’s Q1 2016 review, in which Dentsu ranks fifth, just behind WPP], but our competitors have had their fair share [of acquisitions] as well.
I would say we’re approaching M&A with a different perspective. We’re not buying to keep growth going, and I would contend that some others take that approach. There’s a misperception that we just acquire. The key thing is that M&A happens within a strategic context. M&A is a not a strategy in itself. M&A is an accelerator of a strategy.
Dentsu’s most recently published numbers looked good, but as you’ve acknowledged some observers suggested that growth was largely underpinned by acquisitions and not organic growth…
Yes, we’ve made acquisitions, but our core growth – and by that I mean organic growth – has been phenomenal. It outpaces our competitors by a factor of two plus.
In the context of Southeast Asia or globally?
Globally. I think it’s a little bit too dismissive to say we’ve done M&A to obtain growth. Again, we do M&A through a broader strategic context, and that’s based on where we see the market going.
Yes, we have growth ambitions. But it’s very much about which capability sets do we have, and where are the gaps that we need to fill. We are a global player. So we need to be globally present in sufficient key markets. So some acquisitions will be about in-fill, others will be about building in additional capability sets. From our perspective, it’s about being sufficiently scaled and substantially differentiated.
The full interview can be read here on mumbrella.asia