LB Icon – which owns UK digital agency Wheel – and Framfab have ended months of speculation by announcing a merger. The deal should create Europe’s largest specialist digital agency, with annual turnover of around â¬161m (&£111.7m) and 1,200 employees in 10 countries.
LB Icon chief executive Robert Pickering confirms that further expansion is planned, with a focus on France and Germany, although infill acquisitions in the UK are possibilities. “We would like to strengthen a couple of service offerings in the UK – it’s such a robust market,” he says.
The agency built up a 15% stake in Framfab during the course of last year, prompting a demand from Framfab’s board that it make its intentions clear. After discussions between the two boards, a deal has been finalised which sees Framfab officially acquiring LB Icon. However, once the deal is finalised, LB Icon shareholders will have 60% of the newly created group. Pickering will become chief executive of the combined company. Steve Callaghan, currently Framfab’s chief executive, will continue in that position until the merger is completed, and will take responsibility for integration in countries where both agencies have offices and for UK and US collaboration. It has not yet been decided whether he will stay with the group long-term.
Both LB Icon and Framfab are quoted on the Stockholm stock exchange. Framfab will take over LB Icon’s listing on Euronext in Amsterdam . The new merged group will have a stock market value of around â¬323m (&£224.2m).