Italy's SEC in 'advanced talks' to buy UK PR firm amid planned £5m London float

SEC, which claims to be Italy's largest PR and integrated comms group, has announced its ambitions for the UK market, including an impending acquisition, and its intention to raise up to €6m (£4.6m, $6.8m) by floating on AIM.

The firm said on Monday it intended to list on the London Stock Exchange sub-market, which was previously known as the Alternative Investment Market. It said it will apply for admission to trade on AIM and hopes to raise €4m-€6m.

The firm had revenue of more than €21m in 2015, and EBITDA of €3.4m.

The group was founded by Fiorenzo Tagliabue in Milan in 1989, and today has 170 staff across its various companies, having grown both organically under the SEC brand and through acquisition of agencies in other European markets, including Germany's Kohl in August. In Belgium it operates through the agency Cambre, and in Spain through ACH Cambre. It also signed a co-operation agreement with an Iranian firm in July, claiming to be the first Western PR firm in the market.

A statement to the London Stock Exchange said: "Admission to AIM has been sought for a number of reasons including allowing greater access to capital to fund future activities, including acquisitions. The listing facilitates the recruitment and retention of suitably qualified staff through the issue of options over publicly traded shares. It also raises the profile and reputation of the group within the industry."

Tagliabue, who remains chair of the group, said: "In the past few years, SEC has experienced important growth in the Italian market, which has been essential in achieving its leading position in the market today. We have undertaken the key process of international growth through acquisitions in Brussels, Spain and Germany. We plan to continue on this path, essential for firms like us, who operate in an inherently global industry. We are in advanced stages of negotiations with a London-based agency with turnover in excess of £3m, specialising in corporate and public affairs.

"The listing will give us precious resources to provide additional drive and enthusiasm, with a particular and strategic attention to the opportunities offered by the digital field. Through listing we want to transform SEC from the company it is today into a public company, with an increasingly significant stake in those who co-operate with us in Italy and abroad."

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