Olson Acquired; No Real Changes to Report

By Patrick Coffee 


Last night after we left the office, we learned that another chapter in the history of independent agencies has closed with the acquisition of Minneapolis-based Olson by ICF International. (Law firm Hogan Lovells advised the parties on the deal.)

What is ICF? It’s a D.C.-based “provider of consulting services and technology solutions to government and commercial clients” that wanted to expand on the “customer engagement, e-commerce and system-integration” services it offers to clients in the public and private sectors.


The basic idea is that ICF, which was previously able to make recommendations to its clients regarding their marketing strategies, can now follow through on that advice via campaign execution.

It’s also worth noting that, while Olson still made the lists of top indie agencies before this week, its owner John Olson did sell to the private equity group KRG Capital Partners back in 2009.

So why did the agency sell (beyond the $295M)? A source tells us that selling to a consultancy as opposed to a more traditional holding company will allow Olson to retain a greater degree of its independence while avoiding the redundancies that follow every larger acquisition.

Current management will remain in place and Olson’s relationships with current clients will not be affected…except in the sense that those clients will, hopefully, soon have access to ICF’s services as well. The same applies from ICF’s perspective, which is why they made the offer in the first place.

Both companies hope the move will lead to growth; it definitely means that one name will be missing from next year’s independent agency rankings.