Omnicom buys majority stake in Portland

Omnicom Group has bought a majority stake in Portland, as the group looks to strengthen its global lobbying muscle.

Tim Allan: sold majority stake in Portland
Tim Allan: sold majority stake in Portland

The group has bought a stake – thought to be around 80% - in the public affairs and corporate comms agency founded 11 years ago by Tim Allan, a former senior adviser to Tony Blair and director of comms at BSkyB.

The remaining shares are retained by Portland’s eight-strong senior management team, which includes former Sun political editor George Pascoe-Watson and former Defra director of comms Steve Morris.

As part of the acquisition, Portland will enter into a closer working partnership with G+ Europe, the Omnicom-owned Brussels-based public affairs agency, with the aim of offering ‘a truly global service’.

Allan told PRWeek: ‘It’s going to be the start of Omnicom launching a high-end international PR and public affairs network with Portland at its heart, and we’ll be working very closely with G+ in Brussels.’

Omnicom has agreed an earn-out period for Portland’s senior team, which Allan said will be over a period ‘less than five years’.

Dale A. Adams, president and CEO of Omnicom’s diversified agency services group, said: ‘Portland’s dedication to quality and its ability to attract the best talent is what makes it stand out in the marketplace.’

Adams added that the alliance with G+ Europe will allow Omnicom to respond to the increasingly international nature of comms and regulatory challenges.

Portland will retain its brand, as will G+ Europe.

The deal comes after a working relationship between G+ Europe and Portland over the past two years, having shared clients and pitched together.

Peter Guilford, co-founder and executive chairman of G+ Europe, said of its relationship with Portland: ‘Everything that needs to be tried and tested has been,’ adding that Portland was a ‘natural partner’.

‘What we’re trying to do is create something on top of our brand for people who want a genuine worldwide service – many clients have a global challenge with politics and the media,’ added Guilford.

As well as its London hub, Portland has offices in New York and Nairobi.

Omnicom also owns Fleishman-Hillard, Ketchum and Porter Novelli, which are not expected to be involved in the partnership.

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