Ketchum targets South East Asia with Singapore acquisition

Ketchum has acquired independent Singapore-based PR agency Icon International Communications.

Ketchum CEO Rob Flaherty: multinational client base has regional headquarters in Singapore
Ketchum CEO Rob Flaherty: multinational client base has regional headquarters in Singapore

The 27-person firm will be branded as Ketchum Icon and will continue to be led by managing director John Bailey. He will report to Jon Higgins, senior partner and CEO, international, for Ketchum.

Ketchum and Icon Singapore have been affiliated since 2008, working together on regional and local clients from the corporate, travel and hospitality sectors, such as Sofitel Hotel and travel trade show ITB Asia.

"Icon Singapore is a partner we have know for five years and this acquisition is a transition from the partnership," Higgins told Campaign Asia-Pacific. "This is the first step for us to tap into the growth of South East Asia, such as Vietnam."

This acquisition marks Ketchum’s further expansion in the region. In 2011, the firm acquired a majority position in its long-established Greater China operations (six offices) and in India (seven offices). In late September, Ketchum merged with InComm Brodeur in South Korea.

In Tokyo, Ketchum has an exclusive affiliation with Hakuhodo. Icon’s Australian and Indonesian operations, which are owned and led by Phil Burford and Chris Gray, are also operating as part of Ketchum’s affiliate network.

Rob Flaherty, senior partner and CEO of Ketchum, noted that it was vital for the agency to evolve its business to complement the needs of the multinational client base, which has regional headquarters in Singapore.

The acquisition, he added, will enhance its combined ability to provide clients with local knowledge and international expertise, service and support.

Icon Singapore was launched in 2005, offering clients strategic counsel in the areas of corporate comms, marketing comms, media relations, social media and issues and crisis management.

It also works with Kenyon International Emergency Services for crisis-management capabilities, which integrates its corporate comms expertise and market knowledge with Kenyon’s experience as a disaster-management company.

Bailey said the acquisition allowed the agency to expand further in the region: "We will continue to look at the social and digital capabilities, and meeting the needs of clients in this aspect is crucial. We are also looking for affiliation in emerging markets where we can expand."

This story first appeared on Campaign Asia's website.

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