McKinsey & Co acquires venture arm of Malaysian digital agency

In the latest move by management consultancies into the marketing and communications industry, McKinsey & Co today announced it has acquired VLT Labs, a unit of independent Malaysian agency VLT.

The VLT group, including VLT Labs
The VLT group, including VLT Labs

While the purchase price is undisclosed, VLT chairman Warren Tan told Campaign Asia-Pacific that McKinsey’s offer represented "incredible shareholder value, and we couldn’t turn it down". It is McKinsey’s first digital acquisition in Southeast Asia.

VLT Labs was established four years ago to focus on the startup community, but also to service large conglomerates in the digital transformation space. The agency’s capabilities are more technology focused, including engineering, UX design, product building and SEO optimisation.

Andrew Tan, VLT Labs CEO, and his 15-strong team will transfer to McKinsey. VLT itself will remain as is, Tan clarified, retaining its brand, clients and stakes in various investments.

"When we set up VLT to build the digital agency of tomorrow, we joked that one day we may even compete with the McKinseys of this world," he said. "It’s an amazing validation of what we do."

McKinsey became a VLT Labs client just over a year ago, and approached VLT about the acquisition not long after.

Tan said the deal is an "incredible opportunity for our colleagues on a global platform" that represents a shift in the recent landscape, as both VLT and VLT Labs have been engaged more and more by management consultancies in the past few years.

VLT is making developments of its own. Following its Cambodia entry with MSA, VLT is close to completing "a couple of regional acquisitions, which will boost our capabilities to a new level", Tan said. 

This article first ran on Campaign Asia-Pacific

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