Aegis’ Isobar Acquires iProspect

BOSTON Isobar, the digital communications unit created earlier this year by U.K.-based holding company Aegis Group, said it has made its first stateside acquisition, buying search engine marketing concern iProspect.

“This is a major move in the development of Isobar’s global vision,” said Nigel Morris, the company’s worldwide president. “We believe in their philosophy of how search fits within the context of marketing and look forward to creating the future of digital marketing together.”

Sarah Fay, president of Isobar’s U.S. operations, said the deal is important because it establishes Isobar’s credentials in search-engine marketing which “already represents more than 30 percent of online advertising [spending] in the U.S., and is a key driver in our industry’s growth.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Sources estimated the sale price in the $50 million range.

Located in Watertown, Mass., 85-person iProspect, which retains its name, staff and management structure in the deal, was launched in 1996. Some key clients include John Deere, L.L. Bean, PeopleSoft, Sharp and Xerox. Founder and chief executive Fredrick Marckini and president Robert Murray will continue to oversee iProspect’s day-to-day operations.

London-based Aegis formed Isobar in July; the organization works for some 350 clients through 36 offices in 24 markets worldwide and is parent to i-shop Carat Interactive. Isobar works for clients such as Adidas and Pfizer; the umbrella brand employs about 560 people and has billings of $500 million and projected revenue of $100 million.

Isobar said iProspect is its seventh acquisition in its six months of operation.