NEWS6 May 2010

Corporate Executive Board to buy trends researcher Iconoculture

M&A North America

US— Consumer trends researcher Iconoculture is set to be acquired by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), an executive research and advisory firm, for upwards of $15m.

CEB chief executive Thomas Monahan (pictured top) said Iconoculture’s data and insight “fills a key gap in our strong sales and marketing practice area”.

Discussing the deal with financial analysts, Monahan said: “We saw our members asking us for more help on consumer insight. We faced the classic ‘make/buy’ decision and came to the conclusion that the Iconoculture team had done a great job of building up terrific content, good relationships and a great organisation and we saw an opportunity to accelerate our ability to meet that need.”

The acquisition is expected to close some time in the next month or two. As to the deal’s value, Monahan said: “Broadly speaking, Iconoculture is about $15m in annual sales. We paid a little more than one times revenue up front, with some additional consideration available based on our 2010 performance.”

CEB’s first quarter revenue was down 15% to $100m while net income declined 11% to £11.6m. Monahan said the revenue drop was expected and that otherwise the firm had made “a solid start”. “There’s no doubt we have benefited as the economy shows signs of thawing,” he said.

Iconoculture CEO Dan Frawley (pictured bottom) is expected to remain with the business following the CEB takeover, along with the rest of his leadership team.

Vickie Abrahamson and Mary Meehan, the co-founders of Iconoculture, left the agency in February after 18 years to launch a new trends business called Panoramix Global with a focus on researching consumers in G20 countries.