Lexis PR is bought for £5m in Birley-led MBO

Lexis Public Relations founders Bill Jones and Tim Adams have been bought out by five agency directors in a deal worth close to £5m.

The MBO group, headed by MD Hugh Birley, sealed the deal last Friday after Jones expressed a desire to sell up last year.

The MBO was advised on by former Lexis non-executive chairman and Text 100 founder Mark Adams. According to Jones, the sale to the company's directors was preferred to offers from other major marketing groups.

Under the terms of the sale, Jones and Tim Adams will act as part-time consultants for a one-year period. Adams will work almost full-time on client service for four months before reverting to one day a month, while Jones will work three days a month as chairman of the agency's operating board.

Birley becomes Lexis CEO in place of Jones, while the other directors involved in the MBO - Fiona Jolly, Duncan MacKenzie-Reid, Margot Raggett and Greg Broadbent - retain their existing titles.

The move was financed through investment from the five directors, and creative service sector business accelerator Pembridge Partnership, which takes a ten per cent equity stake in the new set-up.

Birley said both sides considered an MBO preferable to a sale to a larger group: 'Eighteen months into most acquisitions what is left is quite different from what is acquired and becomes subsumed into the parent brand.'

Jones - who is understood to have held discussions with Omnicom before pressing ahead with the MBO - admitted that avoiding a 'three to five year' earnout hadfavoured the MBO.

Leader, p10

The Key Facts

- Lexis Public Relations founded by Bill Jones and Tim Adams in 1991

- 2001 income of £4.7m. The agency was ranked 36th in PRWeek's Top 150 last year

- Agency sold for almost £5m. Jones and Adams to remain as consultants for one year

- Major clients of the agency include Guinness UDV, Barclaycard and Powergen.

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