Deloitte acquires boutique design firm Aqua Media


Professional services firm Deloitte has acquired boutique design house Aqua Media for an undisclosed sum, adding to Deloitte’s growing list of mergers and acquisitions in the past 12 months.


Deloitte’s latest acquisition swallows up Aqua’s 15 staff based in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Deloitte will also acquire Aqua’s creative management software tool, which has been a key factor in the company’s success over recent years.


For the last decade, Aqua’s team has managed Deloitte’s design, branding and multimedia requirements including video and online design.


Deloitte chief marketing officer David Redhill describes the acquisition as a “significant strategic move”, indicating the deal is first and foremost a talent buyout.


“The acquisition, though small in relation to some of our other M&A activity of recent years, is significant in the talent and capability it beds down within the Australian firm, and in the signal it sends to clients and the market,” Redhill says.


“Aqua’s integral role in helping to build our brand and advertising over the last decade has proved to be immensely valuable as we seek to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.”


“In a rapidly changing world where professional services firms are under pressure to reduce margin and go offshore, our ability to provide unique solutions to complex problems both in person and online remains critical.”


“I am confident that Aqua’s design training and creative skills will assist in the development and introduction of client centric design thinking.”


The deal is designed to strengthen Deloitte’s claim to be the only big four partnership with a fully-equipped, in-house creative capability, focused on providing advisory solutions to clients and stakeholders.


Aqua Media founder Bill Bovopoulos says the in-house move make sense given how close the company already is to Deloitte.


“Following the acquisition, our team will be focused on Deloitte and its clients’ branding, design and multimedia needs,” he says.


“In addition, we will continue to serve existing clients for whom we worked with as an independent business, whom we will continue to serve under the Deloitte brand name.”


The acquisition joins a long line of M&A activity on Deloitte’s part, including a high profile deal in March, which saw Deloitte acquire economic consultancy Access Economics.


The same month, specialist performance management advisory firm jackson browne joined Deloitte Consulting.


In December, the Australian practice of commercial advisory firm SAHA International joined Deloitte, as did the lead partner and staff of specialist identity management business Agreon.


More traditional acquisitions include Adelaide firm mhm and Davern Dixon in June.


Deloitte chief executive officer Giam Swiegers has said that we wants revenues to hit at least $1.5 billion by the time he steps down as CEO in 2015, suggesting further M&A activity could be on the horizon.