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Pitch consultant MediaSense sells significant stake to PE fund Apiary Capital

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MediaSense, a global pitch consultancy and advisory firm that has run many of the biggest media agency reviews of recent years, has sold a significant stake to private equity firm Apiary Capital.

The sale price was undisclosed but Campaign estimates the company was valued at in excess of £30 million on a hypothetical multiple of eight times annual profits of £4 million.

MediaSense would not comment.

Graham Brown and Andy Pearch co-founded MediaSense with two laptops during the 2009 financial downturn and have built a blue-chip client list, including Chanel, Coca-Cola, Diageo, Dyson, Honda, Just Eat, Sanofi and the UK Government.

Brown, the chief executive, and Pearch, the chief operating officer, plan to use the investment to drive “ambitious expansion plans” for the London-based firm.

Geographical expansion appears likely. “We have a relatively small presence in the US and an early presence in India and no presence in the rest of Asia,” Brown said. Asked if expansion could involve M&A, he replied: “It very well could.”

The co-founders each own around 45% of the shares, according to Companies House filings. Other staff including Ryan Kangisser, managing partner, strategy, own the remaining shares.

MediaSense’s accounts show headcount jumped from 35 in 2019 to 56 in 2020 despite the pandemic, and the company said staff numbers have risen by a further 40% to around 80 people in 2021 amid a surge in the volume of pitching across the ad industry.

Brown, who used to work at Carat, said: “Thanks to our great team and loyal clients, we are very proud of what we have achieved over the past 12 years, but we remain ambitious and hungry for further expansion and growth: to achieve our goals, we wanted to find a like-minded partner for the next phase of our development. I am delighted to say that in Apiary we have found a company that is as excited about our future as we are.”  

Pearch, who previously co-founded media auditing firm Billetts, which became part of Ebiquity, said: “When we set up MediaSense we created a services and systems infrastructure to meet brands’ evolving requirements within the rapidly changing media ecosystem. Apiary’s investment increases our firepower to acquire new capabilities and resources, which will accelerate and further enhance our offering to clients.”

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