Subscribe to the daily newsletter.

One Equity Partners acquires Stein IAS owner MSQ


International private equity firm One Equity Partners (OEP) has acquired next-generation creative and technology group, MSQ Partners (MSQ).

MSQ is the parent company of Stein IAS, 26 and Elmwood, with significant presence in Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast. OEP will become the leading shareholder under the deal, with MSQ’s senior management and existing private equity investor, LDC, reinvesting as minority partners.

The deal will allow MSQ to accelerate its ambitious growth strategy with a focus on further international expansion particularly in the USA and Europe – where OEP has a significant presence. This will be delivered through a continued emphasis on acquisitions and organic growth, a key driver in MSQ more than doubling its 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 the group to build out its data-driven and tech-enabled model, which combined with its 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 its multi-disciplinary offering internationally and doubled its team to 1,200 colleagues working across America, Asia and Europe. It has also added significant senior hires, and new client wins have included household names like Booking,com, The AA, Vitality and Reckitt.

MSQ delivers its services through a total of 11agencies including Brave Spark (creative production studio), Elmwood (branding and design), Freemavens (research and insights), MMT (web and digital product development), Smarts (PR and creative), MBAstack (CRM and customer engagement), Miri Growth (mobile creative), 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, along with start-up 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.”

Dr Jörg Zirener, senior managing director of One Equity Partners, added: “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.”

In addition to Reid, MSQ’s storied 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 MSQ announced it has achieved B Corp certification across the group, demonstrating its 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.

One Equity Partners has over $10 billion in assets under management, primarily in the industrial, healthcare and technology sectors in North America and Europe. It was formerly the merchant banking arm of JP Morgan Chase and was spun out from the parent company in 2015.

Subscribe to the Prolific North Daily Newsletter Today!

Want all the latest content from Prolific North delivered direct to your inbox daily? Of course you do!

Related News