Data and analytics company Ascential has announced that it has entered into agreements to sell its digital commerce and product design businesses for a combined £1.4bn ($1.7bn), the company said in a statement today (30 October).

The sale, which is still subject to shareholder approval, will see Ascential’s digital commerce unit go to Omnicom Group for an enterprise value of $900m. Its product design unit will go to Wind UK Bidco 3 Limited (“Bidco”), a newly-formed company, for approximately $849m.

Ascential said it intends to distribute approximately £850m to Ascential shareholders following the sale.

Ascential’s CEO Duncan Painter will join Omnicom and become CEO of Flywheel Digital, a new unit of Omnicom, which will operate the digital commerce business.

Philip Thomas, currently CEO of Ascential’s intelligence and events business, will be appointed as the group’s new CEO.

The company expects the transactions to be completed by the end of Q1 2024.

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According to GlobalData’s Thematic Report: E-commerce, the global value of transactions for the ecommerce market was $5.9trn in 2022.

It will reach $9.3trn by 2027, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.5% over the forecast period. This compares to a 14.4% CAGR between 2017 and 2022 and a 16% increase in the value of transactions between 2020 and 2021.

Data privacy remains one of the biggest challenges for e-commerce companies.

E-commerce companies handle vast amounts of data and must grapple with ever-expanding regulations, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), regarding the management, storage, and processing of consumer data.

European data regulators imposed GDPR fines totalling €158.5m between 28 January 2020 and 2021, a 39% increase on the previous 20 months since the introduction of the harsher data protection law.