Interpublic’s Small Stake In Facebook Provides Nice Boost

Advertising agencies are still recovering from the dismal ad market that began to come back to life in 2010. So any return from past investments still helps make a difference. That is certainly true in the case of Interpublic Group, which the Financial Times says has a stake in Facebook that is worth between $200- and $300 million, all from an initial investment of just $5 million in 2006.

IPG has been quiet about its stake in Facebook. As marketers are still looking for the best ways to approach the social network’s the ad holding company’s connection is certainly helpful. It’s also noteworthy given how early in Facebook’s existence the investment was made. The social net, which was founded in 2004, now has about 600 million users.

Still, IPG’s 0.4 percent stake in Facebook is dwarfed by others — but not by much. For example, Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) has an estimated 1.3 piece of Facebook for a $240 million investment, while Russia’s DST bought in at a $10 billion valuation, has a 10 percent stake in the social net.

Unlike rival ad holding companies Publicis Groupe and WPP Group, IPG has been relatively limited in its interactive investments and acquisitions. Given formation and subsequent restructuring of its Mediabrands unit, which functions as an umbrella over its media buying and digital agencies, over the past two years, that could change as it has put its digital leadership team in place.

In January, after a year of looking for a CEO at Mediabrands, the company looked in-house and selected Universal-McCann’s Matt Seiler as the unit’s head. Leading up to that decision, digital vets Sean Finnegan was tapped to lead hyperlocal subsidiary Geomentum and Tim Hanlon was picked to manage Velociter, the venture capital arm. Velociter is expected to raise IPG’s investment profile over the course of this year, especially as the M&A digital market continues to heat up.