Accenture’s Tech Push Makes It World’s Most Acquisitive Firm

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Accenture Plc’s hunt for talent is turning it into the world’s most acquisitive company, helping the $172 billion consultancy become a bigger force in everything from digital marketing to industrial automation.

Accenture has announced at least 65 takeovers over the past two years, more than any other major business, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It’s snapping up a target every week and a half on average, keeping it busier than private-equity giants like Blackstone Group Inc. and KKR & Co.

While most of the deals are small, the pace has been relentless and seems to be accelerating: It’s not rare for Accenture to announce two transactions in a single day. On March 1, it unveiled three deals, buying an Australian supply chain consultancy, a Brazilian robotics firm and a U.K. leadership development business.

The company is having to move faster to keep an edge in the digital technologies that are transforming business, and takeovers are a quick way to soak up talent and ideas. Investors appear to approve of the tactic -- Accenture shares have surged 42% in New York trading in the past 12 months, giving it a market value of $171.6 billion.

It expects to spend at least $1.7 billion on acquisitions in fiscal 2021, Chief Financial Officer KC McClure said on an earnings call in December. That number is ticking up -- the consulting and outsourcing giant spent about $1.5 billion in 2020 and $1.2 billion in 2019, according to previous earnings calls.

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Accenture has been increasingly cited as a rival by companies like WPP Plc and S4 Capital Plc in the advertising sector, with corporate clients demanding joined-up services from marketing through to e-commerce and business restructuring.

“Our acquisition strategy, which is an engine to fuel organic growth, remains focused on scaling our business where we see a big market opportunity, adding skills and capabilities in key strategic areas, and deepening our industry and functional expertise,” an Accenture spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

The firm booked revenues of $44.3 billion in the latest financial year and employed about 506,000 people as of Aug. 31, according to its most recent annual report.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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