Acquisitions double size of Fleishman-Hillard Europe

Fleishman-Hillard's European operations doubled in size this week as its latest two acquisitions took effect.

Fleishman-Hillard's European operations doubled in size this week as its latest two acquisitions took effect.

The largest PR firm in the US - which had until now been a relatively minor player in some continental markets - has absorbed Omnicom sister shop GPC and bought technology agency Herald Communications in a separate deal thought to be worth more than pounds 10m.

Both deals have been concluded in the past week, and mean that F-H has 450 staff across Europe - compared with 250 before - pulling in fees of almost pounds 40m, twice the previous sum.

The merger with GPC will see both agencies retain their brand names outside the US. GPC chairman Hershell Ezrin said the merger was a good fit since GPC's Canadian and European strength matched F-H's top spot in the US marketplace, where GPC's traditionally weak brand will now disappear.

Senior F-H figures hope it will lead to an increase in client-sharing and joint pitching.

Crucially, it will offer F-H a foothold in the key Brussels market, where F-H has no presence but GPC's public affairs work dominates.

Herald Communications, with over 100 staff and clients including Kodak, KPMG and Palm, brings five tech PR offices to the party - in London, Paris, Munich, Milan and Prague. Herald executive chairman Paul Mathieu and European CEO Esme Page will now report into F-H's European president Jack Modzelewski.

Herald joins Technology Consulting Worldwide, F-H's global tech practice, alongside five US based PR firms bought in recent years.

Global CEO John Graham said: 'We identified healthcare, tech, public affairs and financial PR as the cornerstones of growth. With the acquisitions of (healthcare firm) CPR last year and now GPC and Herald, we are three-quarters of the way there.'

UK MD Paul Blackburn said that clearing the final hurdle for F-H in Europe - developing a credible financial PR offering - is likely to lead to a series of hires rather than an acquisition.

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