BrandArena: AVATAR buys into M&C Saatchi`s SA Network

Wednesday 25 January 2017

AVATAR buys into M&C Saatchi`s SA Network

AVATAR Investment Holdings (AIH) and M&C Saatchi Abel have announced a share deal that will see each of the agencies acquire a minority stake in each other’s operations.
Zibusiso Mkhwanazi and Veli Ngubane, AVATAR
AIH, the owner of largest majority black owned and run integrated advertising group AVATAR360 (Avatar Johannesburg and Avatar Cape Town), will acquire shares in M&C Saatchi Abel, M&C Saatchi Africa, and three M&C Saatchi companies namely digital agency, Creative Spark, media agency M&C Saatchi Connect, and the design focused agency Dalmatian Advertising. In turn, the London-headquartered global marketing firm, M&C Saatchi PLC, will acquire a minority share in AVATAR360.

Awarded the Financial Mail Adfocus Medium Advertising Agency of the Year award at the end of 2016, AVATAR’s client list includes Caltex, Fox International channels, SAA, BrandSA, SAB, and Unilever amongst others. Founded by Zibusiso Mkhwanazi and Veli Ngubane in February 2012, Mkhwanazi and Ngubane will retain the majority shares of AVATAR, thereby making the share swop a first on the South African agency landscape, as it is the first time that a company of AVATAR’s size and structure will become part of another entity without sacrificing its independence.

“The share transaction we’ve concluded with M&C Saatchi Abel is a step we’re taking in order to continue driving our goal to establish South Africa’s largest integrated communications group – a dream we‘ve had since we founded AVATAR five years ago. Taking a share in M&C Saatchi’s local operations will benefit our deal flow and open solid African expansion opportunities,” says Mkhwanazi, CEO of AVATAR.

“Our thinking now is to be Africa-facing, and we’ve been looking for the right structure and partners to take on the continent,” Mkhwanazi says. “We’ve had an interest in Mike Abel and his business for some time because of who he is, his values, amazing growth track record, and what he has achieved by gathering a remarkable group of people around him. Given our shared values and fit, the share deal made sense. It will enable us to access highly specialised resources, given the extended group will now number over 300 talented people. We will also now be able to tap into M&C Saatchi Worldwide, which is very attractive to us and existing clients in the AIH stable.”

All businesses will remain independent at board and executive level, but Mkhwanazi will become the group CEO of Avatar360 Group and AIH as of February, and is now tasked with focusing on expanding the group structure and positioning, as well as the integration between the agencies and overseeing shared services. Mthunzi Plaatjie who joined the group as MD of Cape Town will now oversee AVATAR’s Cape Town and Durban-based clients.

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