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Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Stagwell Group, an investment company in Washington, D.C. that specializes in advertising and marketing companies, has agreed to make a $100 million equity investment in MDC Partners, an ad agency holding group with dozens of brands but still considered tiny compared to major ad holding companies like Omnicom, WPP or Publicis.

Why it matters: Stagwell president and managing partner Mark Penn says there's a sweet spot in the ad agency world where he thinks his bet will pay off.

  • "Companies these size can invest in talent," Penn says. "Big holding companies tend to de-emphasize talent-based systems. I love nothing more than a smart person running a kickass agency. That's where you can be the most successful."

Details: Penn tells Axios that he has no plans to spin out any of MDC's individual companies, in part because semi-scale is part of his strategy.

"I think this scale [Stagwell and MDC] is the right one to achieve and leverage synergies and great talent and top accounts."

The big picture: Some industry execs have wondered whether Penn's political past, or the political affiliation associated with some of Stagwell's holding companies, could create a culture clash between the D.C.-based holding group and the New York-based MDC.

Yes, but: Penn says he's no longer the political hack that he used to be, although he does still participate in a lot of news commentary on cable channels.

  • "I haven’t done any politics over 10 years, I have no plans change that," Penn says. "I'm dedicated 100% make sure these businesses achieve what they can achieve."
  • Penn adds that "90% of Stagwell's business is non-political," and "if you combine MDC and Stagwell, it would be 96%."

Go deeper: Penn flipped on the Clintons last year

Go deeper

Liz Cheney: Americans deserve better than choice of Biden or Trump

Rep. Liz Cheney talks with Lesley Stahl on CBS' "60 Minutes." Photo: CBS News

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) told CBS' "60 Minutes" in an interview broadcast Sunday that Americans "deserve better than having to choose between" President Biden's "disastrous" policies and former President Trump, "who violated his oath of office."

Why it matters: Cheney made the remarks after CBS' Lesley Stahl put it to her in the interview that Republicans feel that her joining the House select committee in charge of investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot helps "keep the focus on Trump instead of on the shortcomings of the Biden administration."

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

First look: The LCV's $4M ad buy

A screenshot from a new League of Conservation Voters ad supporting Rep. Stephanie Murphy.

The League of Conservation Voters and Climate Power are aiming another $4 million worth of ads at centrist House Democrats, urging them to support the climate provisions in President Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Progressive groups are trying to counter the onslaught of conservative money pouring into swing districts. Both sides are trying to define Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda and pressure lawmakers to support — or oppose — the legislation scheduled for a vote in the House this week.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Shutdown Plan B

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Senate will hold a futile vote Monday night — just 72 hours before a potential shutdown — on a House-passed bill to fund the government through Dec. 3 and raise the debt limit.

Why it matters: The bill is going to fail. Period. But then comes Plan B: A "clean" continuing resolution — stripped of language about raising the debt limit — that Democrats spent the past week preparing, Axios is told.