The cash-and-shares deal, the largest ever for a financial PR agency, is the first notable case of a management consultancy moving into financial comms.
FD takes an initial consideration of £63m from the acquisition, while Advent International - the private-equity firm that bought the company three years ago from Cordiant Communications - makes £47m from the deal. Advent only made an input of £8m three years ago when FD went through a £26m MBO (PRWeek, 9 July 2003).
This week's deal is the latest of many ownership changes at the City agency.
‘It is a landmark moment,' said FD chief executive Charles Watson: ‘In our view we're ultimately a consultancy. This shows categorically that PR is getting taken more seriously.
‘Just like any major deal requires a legal adviser and a banker, it also needs comms support. I had a conversation with a CEO who said he would not consider starting an initiative without considering comms.'
Pembridge Partners partner Mark Adams said: ‘It's a big slap on the back for the [PR] industry and the practice of specialisation. Charles is a good businessman and secured a very good deal. It also highlights that there is money to be made from investing within people-based companies.'
Numis analyst Lorna Tilbian described the deal as ‘fair' and tipped it to be a success.
FD has 17 offices, and clients including easyJet, PartyGaming and Tate & Lyle. It expects to exceed £66m in revenue this year.
FD and FTI had their first talks just four months ago. They are working together, but FD will operate as a separate entity run by existing management.
FD: WHO'S WHO
Charles Watson, Group CEO
Joined FD in 1990. In January 2001, became CEO. In 2002, launched agency network FD International.
Oliver Pawle, Chairman
Joined FD in 2004. Is vice-chairman in the Investment Banking Division of UBS.
Sanjay Jawa, Group COO and FCO
A former Barclays Global Investors finance director, he is responsible for FD's financial and operating infrastructure. He was formerly CFO at London-based corporate finance house Hawkpoint.
Declan Kelly, CEO (US) and chairman (Ireland)
Oversees New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington DC operations.