Kwango, number two in France, announces its acquisition by German platform VerticalAds. Its founder and CEO, François Bieber, reveals exclusively to JDN the rationale for the operation and the ambitions of the new entity.
JDN. Kwanko is one of the leading partners in France with a turnover of 42 million euros in 2021, a presence in seven countries including five in Europe and 150,000 affiliate publishers. Why did you decide to join the verticalAds group? ?
Francois Bieber. This merger is mainly the result of a meeting between entrepreneurs. VerticalAds Group came to us to discuss this merger. We have strong strategic, structural and organizational complementarities. In mergers in general, we often try to respond to the logic of cost-cutting. This is not the case: we are in a dynamic of strong synergies with the main objective of becoming European leader in the verticals that we will develop.
Before discussing your projects, can you explain to us why you should join a group that focuses on fewer countries and has a smaller network than you?
In fact, the verticalAds group focuses on Germany, Austria and German-speaking Switzerland. Their network is therefore smaller than Kwanko’s. On the other hand, their turnover of 80 million euros in 2021 is much larger than ours. This is partly explained by their strategy of vertical specialization. They have indeed achieved very strong leadership positions in the finance, communications (including telecom, energy and media) sectors and are growing strongly in retail. The group also has technological tools that interest us. I can name the price comparators and shopping guides that we can use to better equip our partners. Finally, another important aspect is their very high rate of return: since they do not have an international presence, they have lower operating costs.
What strengths does Kwanko have in this operation? ?
We have the international base and structure that VerticalAds needed to develop, particularly in continental Europe. This is a huge time saver for the group. In our shared quest to become a European market leader, Kwanko brings its strong position in the French, Belgian and Portuguese markets.
On which sectors do you want to build this leadership?
We will first focus on the three areas where VerticalAds is a leader in the German-speaking market and where we are complementary in France. Kwanko is a leader in the energy sector in France and has a very good position in retail. We will maximize our synergies to enable our mutual customers to develop locally and in Europe. We want to offer an alternative to other existing offers on the affiliate market in Europe. In particular, we will set ourselves apart from the current market leader [référence à Awin (groupes Axel Springel et United Internet), ndlr.] Thanks to our distribution network and the quality of support we offer to brands and partners.
What happens to the other sectors in which Kwanko is positioned so far, such as automotive, travel or real estate? ?
The Kwanko brand will become one of the entities of VerticalAds Group and will continue to exist as a general affiliate network. The difference is that it will continue to evolve across Europe and across all of these industries. Since our two companies complement each other very well from a technological point of view, the two platforms will continue to exist.
What will be the consequences for the Kwanko teams? ?
This merger will provide exciting opportunities for all Kwanko employees. It is a growth project, our goal is not to save costs, but to gain market share. Not only will there be no layoffs, but new hires are already planned.
What are your growth goals?
We expect annual growth of 20% over the next two years. A very important point in this process is the philosopher who will carry this growth. It will not be about aggressive growth, but about development based on creating value for our brands and our subsidiaries.