Win-win for Dentsu & Smile co-founders as…

18 Apr,2017

L-R: Chirag Shah, Deven Dharamdasani, Ashish Bhasin, Anurag Gupta and Ashwani Mehta


By A Correspondent

This news could be looked at from two ends. That the Dentsu Aegis Network has completed yet another acquisition and become really big in digital. Or fro the Smile Group point of view, where the co-promoters Harish Bahl and Manish Vij have hit the jackpot yet again after selling Quasar to WPP in 2008. According to some industry estimates, the deal size is in the region of Rs 750 crore.

So let’s hear it from the DAN pov first:

Dentsu Aegis Network has announced the acquisition of SVG Media Private Limited, one of the largest independent digital agencies in India. SVG Media will join the network’s Asia Pacific digital marketingagency Columbus and will become SVGColumbus.


Manish Vij (L) Harish Bahl (R)

Dentsu Aegis Network claims to be currently Google’s largest search partner in India, and the addition of SVG Media will further strengthen the Group’s leading search position in the market. This acquisition will also support Columbus’expansion in Asia Pacific – now in nine markets across the region.

SVG Media includes the flagship brands DGM, Komli and Seventynine. Founded in 2006, SVG Media comprises over 280 specialists across four major Indian cities Gurgaon, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru. It offers diverse digital media competencies including online performance marketing, mobile app distribution, representations, social and web services through its flagship brands. The group has one of the largest client bases in the Indian digital media sector with over 700 monthly active advertiser campaigns locally, as well as international clients in Dubai, Indonesia and China.

Anurag Gupta,CEO of SVG Columbus & DGM, will report to Ashish Bhasin, Chairman and CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia. Anurag Gupta, CEO of SVG Columbus & DGM, Chirag Shah,CEO of SVG Media Mobile & Seventynine, Deven Dharamdasani,COO of SVG Media Mobile & Seventynine, Akshay Mathur, Business Head of Komli, and Ashwani Mehta,Finance Controller,will join the SVG Columbus Managing Board, which will be chaired by Vivek Bhargava, CEO of Performance, Dentsu Aegis Network India.

Harish Bahl and Manish Vij, founder and co-founder of the Smile Group, will continue to focus on investments through the Smile Group and will no longer act as directors of SVG Media. It has also been agreed that the Smile Group will retain the TyrooTechlabs business.

Said Ashish Bhasin,Chairman and CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia: “India is a significant market with rapid growth potential in its mobile and performance marketing business, and Dentsu Aegis Network India has a strong track record in the search and performance space to deliver this. Given its capabilities in data led search, performance marketing and mobile,SVG Columbus is ideally positioned to capture the fragmented long tail publisher market in India using technology and data. As a Group we have leading position in digital in India, particularly in search and performance and this gives us a clear leadership position in this area. We will now have over 1,300 digital professionals, accounting for over 35% of our revenues, well ahead of our competitors.”

On behalf of SVG Columbus management, Anurag Gupta, CEO of SVG Columbus,,said: “We started out as a digital media group more than a decade ago, and for us to join forces with a clear market leader in digital, that is Dentsu Aegis Network, makes perfect sense. Their priority in placing digital at the forefront of their strategy and goals align perfectly with ours. We will continue to scale our offering in performance marketing and serving clients through the network and other agency networks. We are assured of their strong growth momentum, which will enable us to further enhance our scale as a business operationally and geographically. Their unique one P&L model also allows us to be part of that shared vision towards a digital world which will provide us with access to the latest industry technology and talent to deliver the best solutions for our clients.”

Meanwhile, this is what Messrs Vij and Bahl have to say:

Manish Vij Co-Founder Smile Group: “We built SVG Media with the philosophy of profitable growth and market leadership. This philosophy is not the most popular in digital industry but has been very gratifying for SVG Media founders and key leadership. We understand that media consumptions habits are changing rapidly therefore will now focus on building the TyrooTech business and other media incubations.”

Harish Bahl, Founder at Smile Group:“At Smile we are proud to have continuously built successful JV partnerships or exits with large global firms as, Airbnb, Yahoo, WPP Digital, Scan Group-Africa etc. SVG’s market leadership and exit to DAN is another feather in the cap for Smile.  Our strategy of Investing, Building and JVs through one common platform, is uniquely attractive to global unicorns and entrepreneurs and has evolved over years of learnings.  We hope to share few more exciting announcements in 2017.”


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