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Finsbury Glover Hering, the WPP-backed corporate communications firm, is in talks to acquire US rival Sard Verbinnen, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.
The deal, if completed, would be the latest example of consolidation in the lucrative business of providing financial and strategic communications advice and lobbying services to corporations, boards of directors and high net worth clients.
By combining with Sard, FGH would select a New York-based company known as one of America’s leading M&A communications and activism advisers.
Sard ranked second in 2020 behind New York-based Joele Frank in a industry league table produced by Mergermarket which is based on the total value of the transactions the companies worked on.
The talks have been going on for several weeks and have been prompted in part by US-based private equity firm Golden Gate Capital, which has been considering options for its 40 percent stake in Sard.
Golden Gate acquired its stake in 2016 in a deal that valued Sard at $ 150 million and was intended to help the American firm embark on global expansion. However, the company’s efforts to develop its operations in the UK and Asia have faltered.
A person close to the talks said the negotiations are complicated by a number of factors, including the structuring of the deal. Both firms declined to comment.
Sard was founded in 1992 when George Sard left the public relations firm Ogilvy Adams & Rinehart to start a new firm with his colleague Paul Verbinnen, taking clients like Morgan Stanley with him. The firm employs more than 200 people in total, but saw several of its top advisers leave at the time of the Golden Gate deal.
FGH itself was created last year through the merger of three firms – London-based Finsbury, Washington DC-based Glover Park Group and Frankfurt-based Hering Schuppener – which were all controlled by British advertising group WPP.
That merger created a new US-based corporation with annual revenue of more than $ 200 million a year that is 50.01 percent owned by WPP and aims to take over other global firms such as Brunswick Group and Teneo. In both FGH and Sard, the partners own the rest of the companies.
FGH has 800 employees, 19 offices around the world, and is led by CEO Alexander Geiser, who was previously a managing partner at Hering Schuppener. Roland Rudd, founder of Finsbury, and Carter Askew, co-founder of Glover Park, are the firm’s co-chairs.
People close to FGH have previously said that the company is likely to consider an initial public offering in the next 18 to 36 months.
In June, FGH’s main rival, Brunswick, agreed to sell a 10.7 per cent stake to BDT Capital Partners, which valued the company at around £ 500 million and allowed a £ 70 million payment for its founder, Sir Alan Parker.
Teneo, in which private equity firm CVC has invested more than $ 450 million and has a majority stake, has suffered a reputational crisis over the past year that has led to the departure of two of its founders, Doug Band and Declan. Kelly.