Dentsu Aegis Network has acquired the Maryland-based CRM and performance marketing agency Merkle in a deal tipped to be worth over $1 billion.

The majority stake buy-out tallies the number of Dentsu Aegis-owned digital and performance ad agencies at ten strong, with the network already boasting the likes of iProspect, Carat and Vizeum.

Expected to be complete by the end of September, the transaction will see the falling away of current shareholders, including that of key investor Technology Crossover Ventures, while Merkle’s employees will retain a “significant” minority interest.

The agency calls itself a “pioneer” in people-based marketing, providing data-driven solutions to large corporations to improve customer engagement, advance competitive positions and increase ROI.

Organic growth

Last year the company generated $436 million in revenue, representing a 14% increase on 2014, and added to a string of recent acquisitions in Europe with the purchase of UK-based CRM solutions company Comet Global.

According to Dentsu Aegis, the acquired firm represents the largest acquisition it’s made to date “by far”, while its added capabilities will further strengthen the media company’s already well-ingrained market position.

“Our investment in Merkle is a unique opportunity to bring together two great businesses which have a strong fit in strategic, product, cultural and geographic terms,” commented Dentsu Aegis CEO Jerry Buhlmann.

“As the latest brand in our global network, Merkle will be able to accelerate its transformation into an international agency, by leveraging our global reach and platforms, and providing new capabilities to our clients.”

According to Dentsu Aegis, the acquisition of Merkle forms part of its ambitions to become a “100% digital economy business” by 2020, the growth of which Buhlmann has called “one of the few certainties in an uncertain world”.