LBi Snatches Digital Agency Special Ops Media

LBi International, based in Europe, acquired digital agency Special Ops Media in a deal worth as much as $45 million dollars, the agencies announced yesterday.

The acquisition is part of the digital marketing agency’s plan to increase its presence in the United States. The deal conversely allows the New York City-based Special Ops to gain a foothold overseas.

Special Ops principals said the deal will be valued between $25 million and $45 million, depending on whether the agency meets certain targets. With 64 employees, six-year-old Special Ops had $22 million in gross sales in 2007 and over $10 million in net sales. The agency had $4 million in earnings before interest and taxes.

“Being one of the few remaining independent digital agencies, we were very selective in who we talked to,” said Special Ops co-CEO Christian Anthony. “What we liked in part about LBi is their global strategy and their current global position. They are all about best in class service in Europe, whereas we’ve done the same thing in the U.S. It’s a nice convergence of strategies.”

Special Ops will continue to function as a standalone unit, with both Anthony and co-CEO Jason Klein continuing in their positions. Anthony said that an overlap in clients between the two entities amounted to few, if any.

Special Ops launched in 2002 with an emphasis on entertainment, and maintains relationships with many of those clients today, including Viacom, Lionsgate Entertainment, and Universal Music Group. It has also worked with Coca-Cola, Scholastic, and Citigroup.

Other recent LBi acquisitions include interactive agency Creative Digital Group in Atlanta and Syrup of New York.

In a statement, LBi CEO Luke Taylor cited Special Ops’ expertise in social media marketing and online PR as strong complements to his company’s current offerings. “In the strategic roadmap, released earlier this year, we communicated our intent to extend and deepen our service offer in the United States,” he said. “The acquisition of Special Ops perfectly delivers on this ambition and adds a best in class strategic marketing and media capability to our U.S. business.

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