Consumer agency Frank PR was sold for around £17m to The Photon Group earlier this week. And it is understood tech agency Hotwire has followed suit – possibly for an even bigger fee given its greater staff and turnover.
Photon has spent the past three months in talks with Frank, whose clients include Budweiser, Pizza Express, Channel 4, Harrods and thelondonpaper.
The deal involves an up-front cash payment and loan notes, plus deferred payments tied to performance targets. Leading figures in the industry have estimated the total deal is worth a minimum of £16m over the next four years.
Frank co-founder and chairman Graham Goodkind said he had never proactively looked at selling the agency, despite having received ‘several offers’ over the past year. He insisted the deal ‘will not affect Frank’s culture and approach one iota’.
Goodkind also said that he had no plans to leave the agency. ‘We have been going for seven years and have only scratched the surface of what we can achieve. We want to grow the agency to get up to Lexis and Red’s level,’ he said.
Goodkind is the majority shareholder, with MD and co-founder Andrew Bloch a major shareholder. Other staff members also hold share options.
Hotwire declined to comment on any deal with Photon and any official statement will be limited by Photon’s presence on the Australian Stock Exchange.
Hotwire was established in September 2000 by former Weber Shandwick employees Kristin Syltevik and Anthony Wilson. Its clients include NEC UK and BlackBerry.
The Photon Group now owns six UK businesses.
The group has a total of 30 independent specialist businesses. Photon’s executive chairman Tim Hughes said the group intends to buy more companies in the UK, particularly in the research, public relations and field marketing sectors.