The problem for any group looking to make a media acquisition is that the number of potential purchases in this market is limited. Sources suggest Booth Locket Makin would be the most attractive partner.
BLM is the second-biggest independent media buying agency in terms of billings, and has been in rude health recently. It also has strong digital planning and buying credentials through its Quantum off-shoot, as well as having a creative offering through Flint. Other potential partners could include the Leeds-based Brilliant Media and John Ayling & Associates.
A media acquisition would fill a gap in Engine Group's portfolio following the underwhelming performance of its previous media experiment, Element. The division, a joint venture between Engine and Naked Communications, was launched in December 2004, but it has been wound down for the time being.
The move to acquire a media independent would also make sense because it would provide greater scale and a consistent revenue stream for Engine ahead of any attempt to float or sell the business.
M&C Saatchi adopted a similar model by taking a stake in Walker Media, a business, which according to M&C's last interim results, was the most significant driver of its UK revenue growth.