PainePR sells majority stake to Canadian firm

QUEBEC CITY and IRVINE, CA: Canada-based Cossette Communication Group continued its acquisition strategy by buying an 80% interest in Irvine, CA-based PainePR on Friday.

QUEBEC CITY and IRVINE, CA: Canada-based Cossette Communication Group continued its acquisition strategy by buying an 80% interest in Irvine, CA-based PainePR on Friday.

PainePR, with 50 full-time employees, becomes Cossette's lead PR agency in the US, operating as an independent, wholly-owned subsidiary. No changes will be made to the firm's management structure.

The price paid for PainePR includes an undisclosed closing payment and future payments based on its future performance over a period of four years.

"It gave us the unique opportunity to be the first dog in the yard in the US and be the lead PR organization to support their growth," said David Paine, founder and CEO of Paine PR. "However, it doesn't mean that we couldn't co-exist with another PR brand."

Identifying a partner has been a strategic plan for a couple of years, according to Paine. He said he found Cossette to provide Paine with a similar cultural environment and the ability to scale business nationally and internationally.

"They share our view that once [we're] able to expand our message to a significant degree, there's tremendous potential to capture considerable market share in the US," Paine said.

What impressed Paine the most was that Cossette did not want to alter PainePR's approach.

"We didn't want to be acquired by an organization that would change [us] for the worst," Paine said.

The acquisition is part of Cossette's US growth strategy, which included buying Post & Partners in 2001 and Tarsitano Creative in 2003. Cossette also recently acquired UK-based The Band & Brown Group, with 85 employees, on September 1.

Its three-pronged PR strategy serves clients in Canada through its Optimum Public Relations division, in the UK with The Band & Brown Group, and in the U.S. with PainePR.

PainePR, formed in 1986 and with gross annual income of about $9 million, serves clients such as American Suzuki Motor Corp., Ernst & Young, Duracell, Novartis, and Procter & Gamble's Pampers, Old Spice, Ivory, Metamucil, and Zest brands.

Cossette Communication Group, with 1,400 employees and gross income of CAN$163.7 million in 2003, includes among its clients Alcan, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, and TD Waterhouse.

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