SBD/October 25, 2013/Finance

London-Based Chime Communications Acquires Just Marketing Int'l For $76M

Brown (l) remains JMI CEO, while Coe (r) leads the agency under CSM
London-based Chime Communications Friday announced a $76M acquisition of Just Marketing Int'l, the Indianapolis-based motorsports marketing agency. The deal is the largest sports-related acquisition Chime has made since creating a sports subsidiary, CSM Sports & Entertainment, in '07. JMI is CSM's first U.S.-based company and its fifth company overall. It will work alongside the sports activation and hospitality agency iLuka and sports branding agency Icon and report to CSM Chair Sebastian Coe, who chaired the London Games, and CEO Jim Glover. The deal brings an end to a sales process begun earlier this year by JMI's majority owner, Spire Capital Partners. The private equity firm sold its 50% share of the company, and the other owners -- Credit Suisse (10%), WPP (20%) and JMI CEO Zak Brown (20%) -- sold their stakes, giving CSM full control of JMI. WPP will retain an interest in JMI because it owns 20% of Chime Communications. Brown will remain JMI CEO and become group head of business development for CSM. He will work out of JMI's new London office, which opened in August.

BUILDING OFF SYNERGY: Brown said the synergies between CSM's existing agencies and JMI will help both companies increase their revenues. Brown: "It allows us to expose our clients to other sports in the family. It allows us exposure to their clients to pull into motorsports. ... They want a stronger presence in America, which is half of our business. They wanted a larger presence in motorsports, and they didn't have any before this." He added, "We've been looking at other sports for a long time, and now we're plugged into this larger group." Spire Capital, which owns the PBR, acquired a majority stake in JMI in '08. The private equity group hired Rothschild Group earlier this year to help it sell the agency. Sources familiar with Rothschild's sales book said JMI last year claimed EBITDA of $8M. The company's sales price of $76M is slightly less than a multiple of 10 times EBITDA. Bruce Hernandez, a partner at Spire and the chair of JMI's board, said, "We found a good home for the business, for the employees and Zak, and a fair transaction for the equity holders. It's not a metal-stamping business you could sell to anyone. We feel strongly there's a good cultural fit here, a good strategic fit, and a good business fit."
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