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August 11, 2008

Bank ploughs £20m into agency

A deal worth £20 million has been completed between Bank of Scotland Corporate and Iris Worldwide, an international integrated marketing business with an experiential arm, which is one of the fastest growing businesses in Britain.

The Bank's Growth Capital team was able to offer iris a combined financial package, which includes both debt finance and an equity investment of almost £3 million. Iris has signalled that it is using the investment to build a new model for global marketing services groups and the backing will accelerate its growth into new markets and disciplines while ensuring the best talent and infrastructure is in place.

Iris, which offers integrated marketing services including advertising, direct marketing, digital, PR, promotional marketing and retail consultancy, was established in 1999. It has grown at a rate of almost 50% year on year, with an annual turnover of £53 million.

Earlier this year, the independent agency bought management consultancy firm Concise in a deal worth £5 million. The acquisition, the first for iris, was a move aimed at developing deeper business partnerships with clients globally and addressing clients’ broader business issues beyond traditional marketing services.

The agency employs almost 500 people and provides services globally to a blue-chip client base, which includes Shell, adidas, ING and Sony Ericsson, operating from offices in London, Manchester, New York, LA, Miami, New Delhi, Sydney and Singapore.

Commenting on the deal Malcolm Kpedekpo, associate director of growth capital for Bank of Scotland Corporate, said: "Iris has grown extremely quickly over the last few years and their reputation as an outstanding marketing business is well deserved. Stewart Shanley and Ian Millner [iris's joint chief executives] are particularly talented and we're confident that they'll continue to expand iris all over the world. Bank of Scotland likes to invest in and form relationships with smart entrepreneurs, and they fit the bill perfectly."

Millner added: “As we aim to develop a completely new model for global marketing services groups, we will continue to build a high growth, entrepreneurial and innovative marketing offering that is truly multi lingual, multi national, multi cultural, multi faceted and multi discipline. As a self regenerating agency that is always improving, developing and growing, this partnership will help us accelerate that process as we become the only alternative to the big old fashioned, advertising dominated networks.”

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