The Huntsworth Group has pulled off its biggest acquisition since
Lord Chadlington took control a year ago, buying regional corporate and
consumer PR network Harrison Cowley in a deal worth up to £25m.
Chadlington just misses out on a Top 10 UK agency slot for his combined
PR interests. When HC is added to his recent acquisitions, Wood-side
Communications and Stephanie Churchill PR, and the group's existing
Counsel brand, Huntsworth racks up fees of £13m. This would place
it 11th in the latest PRWeek Top 150.
Under the terms of the deal, HC chief executive David Heal and chairman
Charles Keil - who own 100 per cent of the agency - will receive £6.4m up front. Heal takes over the chairmanship in place of Keil, who
will remain a director of the firm for the foreseeable future.
The three-year earnout described by Chadlington as 'demanding but
achievable', could add three times the initial payment to the final
settlement. For £25m to be hit, profits have to jump by an average
40 per cent over three years and no less than 30 per cent in any one
The Shandwick International founder took over as CEO of the then
troubled Huntsworth 12 months ago. Together with former Halifax chairman
and co-shareholder Jon Foulds he staged a coup to oust the existing
board. He has since cut head count by more than a third and shut two of
four offices in a cost-cutting drive.
This sale was concluded in eleven weeks from Chadlington's first
HC staff were briefed on Wednesday in meetings at the network's eight UK
offices - in Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Southampton, Cardiff,
Leeds, Edinburgh and London.
They stand to cash in from the first deferred payment onwards but not
from the initial payout.