Portland leadership to share £2.8m earn-out after Omnicom acquisition

The performance of Portland following its acquisition by Omnicom has triggered a payout of nearly £3m to its management.

Sold stake to Omnicom in 2012: Portland founder Tim Allan (Credit: David Tett)
Sold stake to Omnicom in 2012: Portland founder Tim Allan (Credit: David Tett)

The windfall relates to the April 2012 deal in which the US marcoms giant snapped up a majority stake in the agency, which was founded in 2001 by Tim Allan, a former senior adviser to Tony Blair.

Accounts filed last month showed a £2.83m earn-out relating to 2012, during which the corporate and public affairs specialist boosted operating profit to £2.2m. The sum was to be distributed before the end of this year.

It is not clear how exactly the earn-out is divided, but eight of the agency’s management team were understood to be among the minority shareholders following the Omnicom deal. At the time of the transaction’s announcement, the earn-out period was said to be ‘less than five years’.

Portland declined to comment, citing financial disclosure restrictions due to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act now the agency is part of Omnicom.

Omnicom holds an 81.15 per cent stake in the parent company of Portland PR Limited – called Portland PR Holdings – according to the latter’s 2012 accounts. They value Portland at £20.3m on a cost and net book value basis.

During 2012, the agency picked up clients such as Heathrow Airport and Barclays and launched its Portland Local division to advise clients on developments such as the recent Localism Act and National Planning Policy Framework.

Portland recorded revenues of £9.7m in 2012, which was up on the previous year on a pro-rata basis. 

Direct financial comparisons with previous years are difficult, as the agency changed its accounting period following the Omnicom deal, but for the period April-December 2011 Portland reported an operating profit of £1.2m on revenues of £5.5m. 

The accounts also break down Portland’s revenue by geography, though it is not clear how exactly work has been billed.

UK revenue was £7.6 million in 2012, up from £3.9 million in April to December 2011.

In Asia, where Portland’s clients include the government of Kazakhstan, revenue was £973,000, up from £686,000, while in North America it more than doubled to £392,000 from £145,000.

However, in Africa, where clients include the Government of Somaliland and the Rwandan embassy to the UK, revenue fell to £103,000 from £377,000. It is understood that the fall masks an increase in Africa-related work invoiced from London.

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