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    MiQ mulls M&A moves with new PE-backers

    Bridgepoint Group has been confirmed as the latest private equity partner of MiQ as the U.K.-based ad tech firm evaluates potential consolidation moves to either bolster its international footprint or broaden its operational expertise.

    In a statement, MiQ’s leadership emphasized that they will remain with the company following the deal, which saw Jefferies Group act as financial advisor, as it pursued its next growth phase.

    The exact terms of the deal were not made available but they are understood to value MiQ at approximately $900 million.

    “Bridgepoint’s proven track record of innovative and scalable investments matches our ambition to move to the next chapter to deliver for our people and clients,” said Gurman Hundal, MiQ’s cofounder and now its executive chairman.

    Speaking with Digiday in July, Lee Puri, fellow cofounder of MiQ, explained how the company’s months-long search for new PE-backers would be dependent on finding an outfit that was “aligned with our values.”

    Listed on the London Stock Exchange, Bridgepoint has taken over from ECI Partners in a move that saw the latter PE firm generate an ROI of more than six times its 2017 investment in MiQ, and one that values the ad tech outfit at close to $1 billion.

    Charles Welham, a London-based director at Bridgepoint, highlighted MiQ’s notable growth rate — its 2021 revenue grew 37.7% to near $465 million generating $45.4 million in profit — and how it aims to boost its expansion with its international expertise.

    Sources with direct knowledge of the pair’s plans for further expansion told Digiday that MiQ is now considering inorganic growth opportunities with potential moves for companies in the areas of contextual advertising and CTV among its considerations.

    “They [MiQ] have never done it before as they’ve grown well inorganically, but there’s potential for consolidation as there’s a lot of point solutions, especially in the U.S., that’s one area where they’ll be spending time,” said one source who requested anonymity due to potential ongoing inquiries.

    Other potential moves include possible mergers and acquisitions that would increase MiQ’s international footprint with continental Europe and APAC understood to be potential areas of interest, another source added.

    PE firms have emerged as the primary drivers of M&A in ad tech, a sector of the media market that saw a glut of public listings in 2021 but has since abated. This slowdown in initial public offerings and mergers with special purpose acquisition companies has been due to a combination of macroeconomic factors as well as uncertainty over issues such as how online advertising will operate amid heightened privacy laws.

    No more ‘dumb money’?

    However, Wayne Blodwell, CEO of consultancy firm TPA Digital described how these concerns have not dampened the interest of many PE firms. In fact, speaking with Digiday, he noted an increase in the number of inbound inquiries from PE outfits during the last 12 to 18 months.

    “Digital advertising is a fast-growing space that’s reasonably immature and not heavily bound by regulation, and there’s so much change going on within it that it still presents opportunities,” he said.

    Blodwell added, “The kind of conversations I have in this space tend to look at emerging opportunities and how much room for growth there is outside of the big companies like Google and The Trade Desk. People use the term ‘dumb money’ but maybe that’s something that was the case a long time ago from a lot of conversations that I’ve had in recent months, they’re surprisingly well informed.”

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