Freeman Acquires Global Brand Experience Agency Sparks
Freeman has acquired Sparks, a global brand experience agency with more than 750 employees. Sparks provides exhibit and event experiences to a diverse group of Fortune 1000 brands, including Google, Salesforce, Anheuser-Busch InBev and T-Mobile. Sparks will combine with Freeman’s agency business, which also caters to major corporate clients, including Amazon, Cisco and Kohler.
“Our combination with Sparks creates a unique opportunity to accelerate Freeman’s vision to become a leader in the corporate space,” said Freeman CEO Bob Priest-Heck. “Sparks, like Freeman, is built by great people, has a long history of success, and is one of the most respected names in the industry. We couldn’t be more excited to have Sparks’ talented team join Freeman at this exciting time for the industry.”
Freeman’s agency and Sparks will integrate, and Sparks, a Freeman company, will continue to be led by CEO David Sudjian, who will report to Freeman President Janet Dell. The combined companies have more than 4,500 employees.
In addition to its headquarters in Philadelphia, Sparks has U.S. offices in Atlanta; Detroit; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; San Francisco; New York; and Ridgefield, Conn., with international offices in Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris and Shanghai.
Sudjian said, “I am thrilled about the immense potential Freeman and Sparks have together. Our exceptional teams are eager to collaborate and leverage our strengths to create extraordinary experiences. The alignment of culture and values between Freeman and Sparks truly sets this combination apart, fueling our ability to deliver remarkable moments worldwide. Together, I am confident we will reach new heights, driven by a shared commitment to excellence.”
Financing for the transaction was provided by KKR primarily through KKR Opportunities Fund II and funds and accounts participating in its strategic investments strategy, but terms of the transaction were not disclosed. J.P. Morgan and King & Spalding LLP are serving as financial advisor and legal counsel, respectively, to Freeman. Cozen O’Connor is serving as legal counsel to Sparks. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP acted as legal counsel to KKR.
“As our 96-year history shows, Freeman continues to be an industry leader because of our ability to understand trends and make bold strategic moves to support our customers’ needs today and tomorrow,” said Freeman Chair Carrie Freeman Parsons.
She continued, “As a family-owned company, we will continue to enhance our capabilities to better support corporate customers – deepening those relationships while also nurturing our longstanding relationships with show organizers. We look forward to delivering outstanding event experiences with the additional support of our strategic partner KKR.”