AlpInvest backs $260m marketing and public affairs deal

The Carlyle unit becomes the first outside investor in a group launched by a former Microsoft executive and strategist for Bill Clinton.

AlpInvest Partners has backed a deal that gave liquidity to investors in a portfolio of marketing, communications and research companies.

The Carlyle unit invested $260 million in the transaction that involved 17 assets owned by Stagwell Group, according to a statement. Stagwell was founded by Mark Penn, a former Microsoft executive and strategist for US president Bill Clinton.

Penn raised $250 million in 2015 for Stagwell, which invests in advertising, research, data analytics, public relations, and digital marketing services. Former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer was a core investor.

AlpInvest has become the first outside investor in the group’s portfolio.

“The marketing landscape is in the midst of a dramatic transformation and we are excited to have AlpInvest support our mission in creating a network of strategists and tacticians that is nimble and digital-centric, building a go-to resource for brands looking to succeed in today’s complex marketplace,” Penn said in the statement.

The $260 million includes additional capital for fresh investments, according to an AlpInvest spokeswoman. The structure of the deal is unclear and the spokeswoman declined to provide further details.

The transaction will support Stagwell’s strategy of “building a network of innovative marketing and research companies”, according to the statement.

It is unclear which investors cashed out in the deal.

Washington DC-headquartered Stagwell’s 17 assets include public affairs agency SKDKnickerbocker, online marketer PMX Agency, digital creative agency Code and Theory and entertainment industry-focused consultant National Research Group.

Mercury Capital Advisors was the advisor to Stagwell.

AlpInvest is investing its 2016-vintage $6.5 billion AlpInvest Secondaries Program VI which includes $3.3 billion for its dedicated commingled vehicle and $3.2 billion in separately managed accounts.