Dyson speaks out on possible sale of Next Fifteen

LONDON: Tim Dyson, CEO of Next Fifteen, downplayed the impact a possible merger or acquisition of the holding company could have on its US PR firms.

LONDON: Tim Dyson, CEO of Next Fifteen, downplayed the impact a possible merger or acquisition of the holding company could have on its US PR firms.

The London-based holding company is in early talks with Huntsworth and Chime Communications about a possible sale. A formal offer that would be taken to shareholders has not yet been made, but a decision whether to pursue a deal will not be made for several weeks.

“Neither of [the bidding companies] have technology firms of any great size so we could continue to play that role,” Dyson said.

Dyson noted that the firm had been approached before, but it “always believed our interests are better pursued being independent, but having said that, if you're approached as a public company you have to look at these offers.”

He acknowledged that talks were more advanced than previous offers, but still far from definitive. An acquisition with either company would also give Next Fifteen more corporate and healthcare expertise, Dyson added.

“Also when something like this happens, other interested parties often also surface,” he noted.

Dyson said he hopes to remain with the firm through any possible acquisition.

“I'm not looking at [a possible deal] as an exit opportunity, and if a right deal were made I would continue,” Dyson said. “I still see a lot of opportunities for Next Fifteen… and I'd be disappointed if as a result [of a possible deal], I'd step out of the picture and that doesn't seem to be what [any of the parties] particularly want.”

A source familiar with the deal said the talks are setting up an arrangement that would be more like a merger than acquisition.

"No deal has been made... but as far Next Fifteen's management, [they are] looking at a deal that has equity participation in the future company,” the source said.

Another source, also familiar with the process, said that because both Chime and Huntsworth are small holding companies, Next Fifteen would become a large part of their revenues.

“These are both strategic acquisitions, not just a financial deal,” the source noted. “So on paper it might be a lower deal because none of the parties are just looking to get out. They want to keep growing the company.”

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