Business

Bristol digital marketing firm nets £13m for global growth

A Bristol-based digital marketing company that counts some of the world’s leading universities and tech brands among its clients has secured a £13m investment to support its international growth ambitions.

Hybrid received the backing from LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group, which will look to help the business broaden its services and explore acquisitions.

The firm, which is based on Queen Charlotte Street in Bristol, supports academic institutions, including Columbia University in New York, Australian National University in Canberra and the University of Bristol, with student recruitment and brand development.

It also provides digital media services and analytics to software and telecoms giants such as Autodesk, Cisco and Verizon.

As part of the deal, LDC’s head of South West and Wales, Dewi Hughes, and investment director Oliver Schofield will join Hybrid’s board.

Jerry Buhlmann, the former chief executive of multinational digital marketing group Dentsu Aegis Network, will also join the company as non-executive chairman.

Hybrid’s chief executive Chris Cammann said the new partnership with LDC would provide the business with “an outstanding platform” to pursue its offering to clients.

Mr Cammann said: “We want to keep breaking new ground and take our performance with our tech and higher education partners to the next level.

“The last 12 months has highlighted the importance of digital channels and our work has enabled higher education institutions in particular to continue to drive engagement with their core audiences at a time when student recruitment has never been as important.

“When we were exploring our funding options, we were keen to remain in the driving seat of our business but wanted support from an experienced and knowledgeable investor with a committed source of capital and a shared belief in our goals. LDC understands our direction and we’re looking forward to the journey together.”

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Hybrid founder James Craven, who will continue to provide strategic advice as board director, said the timing was right to “accelerate and scale” the company’s international growth.

Mr Craven said that LDC, which has committed to invest £1.2bn in UK mid-market businesses over the next three years, was the ideal investor to “super-charge” Hybrid’s growth plans.

Hybrid, which also has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Sydney, owns and operates a number of web brands, including higher education and tech news sites Study International, U2B, Tech HQ and Tech Wire Asia.

The business employs more than 70 people across its worldwide operations.

Mr Hughes added: “With the increasing global use of digital media, there is a significant opportunity for digital marketing agencies that can engage specialist audiences.

“The team at Hybrid has a strong track record of innovation and growth, an established international network and a passion to provide market leading outcomes for its clients. We are excited to support the team’s ambitions and plans.”

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