PORTFOLIO / Talon

Backing digital transformation and expansion into the U.S.

Sector

Tech - digital media

HQ
London, UK

Geographic footprint

UK, United States

Sales

>£500m

Employees
200+

Investment date

March 2017

Status

Exited

The company

Formed in 2013, Talon Outdoor is the UK’s only fully independent Out-of-Home specialist media agency, supporting some of the world’s largest advertisers with a proposition based on innovation and data-led insight. Talon is at the forefront of digital innovation in this market, supporting the transition to the delivery of programmatic, targeted and data-driven marketing campaigns. Out-of-Home advertising is an attractive and growing end market and is widely considered to be one of the most effective mediums for building brands.

Number of acquisitions during Mayfair’s investment 

4

New markets entered

United States

The investment

Mayfair invested in Talon in March 2017, backing a highly effective management team to grow UK market share, pursue international expansion and invest in digital innovation. Underscoring the power of Mayfair’s sector network, Eric Newnham, the founder of the business, was introduced to us by the management team of Ocean Outdoor, a highly successful pre-Mayfair investment. 

 

Talon completed a management buy-out backed by Equistone Partners Europe (“Equistone”), one of Europe’s leading mid-market private equity investors, in July 2022. This allowed Mayfair to exit in full, delivering a very strong investment outcome. Equistone’s investment will provide Talon with both the expertise and capital to continue its global expansion through further M&A and investment in new territories.

Our partnership

Mayfair has supported the business in several areas including:

  • Mayfair’s investment thesis identified an opportunity for Talon to leverage its UK leadership position by expanding into the US, where Digital Out of Home is less developed. We backed Talon to launch an office in New York in 2018, which was profitable in the first year and provided the beachhead for a spate of acquisitions

  • Mapping out potential M&A targets across the US and Europe, which resulted in a series of four acquisitions in San Diego, Nashville, London and Dublin. These were integrated into Talon with support from Mayfair’s Specialist team and integration planning framework. The acquisitions helped to accelerate the international footprint of the business, growing US billings from close to zero in FY16 to c.25% of total billings in FY22B, creating a major new growth lever for the company

  • With Mayfair’s help, the company significantly strengthened its team by hiring a new Chairman, CEO, CFO and CTO. Since the initial investment in 2017, Talon has grown its team to over 200 staff across London (HQ), New York, Nashville, Frankfurt, and Dublin

  • At entry, Talon was largely an analogue business. Working with the management team we identified an opportunity to strengthen Talon’s leadership position by investing aggressively in technology to develop a number of platforms, transforming Talon from a traditional out of home agency to a tech-enabled innovator at exit. Under the stewardship of the newly recruited CTO, over £15m of capex was invested during our ownership period, up from almost zero prior to our involvement

“What attracted us most to Mayfair was their knowledge of our sector. They’ve subsequently deployed that knowledge to be a very supportive partner, helping us to develop new technology and expand in the United States.”

Eric Newnham, Founder of Talon