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News Analysis 26 Aug 2020 - 2 min read

Indie acquired: French giant Havas Media buys Virginia Hyland's media agency, new division launches

By Josh McDonnell - Senior Writer

Havas Media Group has acquired HYLAND, the independent media group launched in 2005 by Virginia Hyland. The move takes Havas' media offering to 100 staff in its Sydney office and adds clients including beauty brand COTY, Etihad Airways, Sydney Airport, Deliveroo and health company Church & Dwight to its roster.

What you need to know:

  • Independent media agency HYLAND has been acquired by Havas Media Group
  • The move takes Havas' media agency headcount in Sydney to over 100 staff
  • Brands including COTY, Etihad Airways, Sydney Airport, Deliveroo and Church & Dwight will now become part of the holding group's portfolio
  • The HYLAND team will move into the Havas Village in Sydney next month as a division within Havas Media Group
  • Founder Virginia Hyland will be taking the role of Managing Director, Hyland Division
  • Hyland says the decision was about access to a "greater pool of resource and capabilities".


A major indie acquisition

Havas Media, part of the French international holding group Havas, has brushed aside the turmoil of COVID-19 to complete its acquisition of independent media and content outift  HYLAND as part of the group's plans to expand its media offering across Australia and New Zealand.

HYLAND’s staff will integrate into Havas Media to form a new, separate division within Havas Media and sit along side the communications group's broader Havas Village structure.

The deal takes Havas Media's headcount to over 100 staff in the Sydney office with the company saying it increases scale and provides further growth opportunities for both agency brands. 

The HYLAND team will move into the Havas Village in Sydney next month, with Founder Virginia Hyland taking the role of Managing Director, Hyland Division.

She will work alongside Mike Wilson, Chairman, Havas Media Group ANZ and Matt Houltham, CEO, Havas Media Group ANZ, on the agency’s senior leadership team.

Hyland, Wilson and Houltham will feature in next week's Mi3's Audio Edition and Deep Dive to unpack the rationale behind the HYLAND acquisition and what's next as Havas looks to differentiate itself from its big five global holding company rivals through parent company and giant entertainment and content conglomerate Vivendi.

"The decision to form this partnership was one of the biggest I’ve ever had to make," Hyland says. "In choosing Havas Media Group, I know we have found a partner that will continue to celebrate our agility and creative team spirit. 

“In the new COVID world we can continue to do great work that delivers success for clients whilst accessing a greater pool of resource and capabilities."

Founded in 2005, HYLAND has worked with clients in the luxury, beauty, travel, B2B and lifestyle sectors.

The agency's current client portfolio includes beauty brand COTY, Etihad Airways, Sydney Airport, Deliveroo and health company Church & Dwight.

Hyland and Havas Media Group chairman Mike Wilson go back two decades when they were at the rebadged WPP media shop, MEC. "I've known Virginia for 20 years and she is one of the smartest operators I know," says Wilson.

Haves Media Group CEO Matt Houltham says: "Bringing HYLAND into the Havas Media Group is great news especially in today’s environment. It gives us further scale to continue on our growth trajectory and enhances our ability to deliver the broadest range of media and content experiences for our clients," Houtham says.

Hyland's move to sell bucks the slowdown in acquisitions by international holding groups and comes as a slew of new independent agencies have launched in the past 12 months.

Most recently, former Dentsu CEO Simon Ryan launched his own independent agency group, RyanCap and has since acquired DBZ Digital, a Melbourne-based digital agency, and ex-VMLY&R CEO Aden Hepburn has gone out on his own with indie agency Akcelo with ambitions for a firm with 100 staff.

Elsewhere, IPG recently sold off its Australian arm of McCann to Ben Lilley, who has gone on his own run of acquisitions and Rich Curtis has also acquired the local division of FutureBrand, another IPG shop.

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Josh McDonnell

Senior Writer

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