Advertising giant WPP saw its M&A activity halve last year, despite a rise in the total number of deals among marketing communication firms.
WPP completed 15 deals in 2018, down from 30 the year before, according to research by Results International.
The most active buyer, Dentsu, recorded 31 deals, while Accenture retained third position with nine deals.
The drop came despite a four per cent rise in M&A activity last year, boosted by a surge in deals in the fourth quarter, with the total disclosed deal value totalling $19.8bn (15.4bn).
North America was the most active region, boasting 377 of the total 882 deals worldwide. Almost a quarter of all deals completed were backed by private equity firms, representing a 79 per cent increase from last year.
Results International partner Julie Langley said: “The high deal activity of 2018 was driven by the continued emergence of new buyers and private equity interest in the sector, as well as the continued requirement for in-demand skills in area such as technology, programmatic, content and analytics.”
The decline in deals for advertising giant WPP comes as the firm launches a new strategy to restructure the business and focus on technology.
Last month the firm said it will cut 3,500 jobs over the next three years as it simplifies its “unwieldy” corporate structure.
One of the most notable deals in 2018 was the $150m acquisition of programmatic advertising group Mightyhive by S4 Capital, the new venture of former WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell.