MDC Buys Majority Stake in Zyman Group

ATLANTA MDC Partners said it has acquired 61.6 percent of the Zyman Group, an Atlanta marketing consultancy founded by Sergio Zyman, former chief marketing officer for Coca-Cola.

Zyman and his senior management team will retain 38.4 percent of the company, and Zyman will remain as chairman and CEO. The amount MDC Partners invested for the controlling interest in the company was not disclosed, but it was paid in a combination of cash and MDC stock.

It is the largest investment the Toronto-based holding company has made to add a company to its existing portfolio of 36 units, which includes ad agencies such as Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami and Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners and Cliff Freeman and Partners, both in New York.

“This is more than double anything we’ve done before,” said Miles Nadal, chairman and CEO of MDC Partners. “This is a seminal moment for the network.”

Zyman founded the company in 1999 and it currently employs 129 people and has annual billings of about $65 million. Based in Atlanta, the firm has offices in Chicago and Mexico City. Last year, Zyman Group was listed by Inc. magazine as one of the nation’s 500 fastest-growing private companies. Zyman has written four books on advertising, marketing and business strategy.

“MDC Partners will enable us to accelerate our growth,” Zyman said in a statement. “They have developed an outstanding reputation for enabling firms to capitalize on their growth opportunities.”

Lee White, chief operating officer at Zyman, said the company plans to open at least one new office this year, either in New York or Europe. The firm, which has grown at an average rate of 50 percent annually, added the Chicago office two years ago and the Mexico City location last year.

Zyman joined MDC’s board of advisors last year and will retain that position, White said.

“That’s where the relationship started,” he said.

Nadal said clients of some MDC shops would benefit from the consultants working at Zyman. White said Zyman already was working with some of those clients before the acquisition.