Canada's MDC Takes Controlling Stake in Zyman Group

07 April 2005

MDC Partners, the acquisitive Toronto-headquartered agency holding company, has made it's latest hotshop acquisition - Atlanta marketing and strategy consulting firm Zyman Group.

No coincidence that Zyman is Cokeville based. Its founder and current chairman, Sergio Zyman (52), is a former chief marketing officer at the beverage behemoth, who quit in 1999 to start his own business with just "me, a bag and a table" .

Today the bag and table have transmogrified into offices in its home town plus Chicago, London and Mexico City, together housing 129 staff and 2004 revenues of $65 million (€50.62m; £34.62m).

Mexican-born Zyman likes the unique MDC acquisition model: buy into businesses that ain't broke - and don't try to fix 'em.

In this case the stake is 61.6%, for which MDC put up $63.8m in cash and stock. The offer was appealing, said Zyman, "because it is a much more strategic thing than someone just buying your revenue."

He claims to have rejected several approaches from holding companies over the years. "With MDC, we'll remain independent, but we'll be able to grow our footprint."

However, there is an itty-bitty shadow over this aura of sweetness and light. Last week MDC delayed its release of results for the fourth quarter and full-year 2004 - the second time in twelve months it has postponed financial filings.

According to the company this is due to more stringent reporting requirements resulting from MDC stock trading on two exchanges - Toronto and Nasdaq - thereby changing its status from foreign issuer to a US registrant.

Such delays, for whatever reason, cause unease in the markets and MDC stock closed at $10 at last week's close, down 39% from its 52-week high of $16.55.

Data sourced from AdWeek (USA); additional content by WARC staff