FD buys Santé in bid to bolster healthcare offering

City agency FD has bought Santé Communications from founder Liz Shanahan in an effort to expand its healthcare expertise.

FD said the move would take the form of a ‘bolt-on’ acquisition – similar to the agency’s purchase of property firm Tamesis two years ago (PRWeek, 21 January 2005). Tamesis eventually became FD Tamesis, and Santé is expected to make the same change after a ­transition period.

FD chairman Charles Watson would not say how much the agency had paid for Santé, but emphasised that Shanahan will remain in charge of the business under the title managing director. Her 20 staff will also share in the financial windfall.

Watson added: ‘Healthcare is a critical industry ­segment. We already have a team of more than 30 people working on healthcare-­related business.’

In the life sciences arena, FD already works with Shire, Sanofi Pasteur, MSD and Norvatis. ‘We’ve been talking with Santé for around a year; we thought they were the best fit [with us],’ said Watson.

Santé brings with it a client list including Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.

Santé will aid FD’s international expansion of its healthcare offering.

Shanahan said: ‘The combination will help broaden our offer to a wider range of solutions to our clients’ needs.’

In 2005, FD acquired public affairs shop LLM Communications and was subsequently bought itself by US firm FTI Consulting for £139m.

Earlier this year, The ­Daily Telegraph medical editor Celia Hall joined Santé in a newly created role as director of media strategy.

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