Shandwick International, the world’s largest independent PR
consultancy, is reported to be in talks with US-owned ad agency group
True North about a possible deal.
As PR Week went to press, Shandwick issued a statement to the Stock
Exchange in response to market speculation.
’The company has been holding preliminary discussions with selected
major business partners about a range of strategic options which may or
may not lead to a collaboration,’ it said. ’These options may include a
substantial minority investment in the company or, potentially, an offer
being made for the whole of the issued share capital.’
The company would not name the potential partners, and stressed that the
talks were ’at very early stages’.
Shandwick has been the subject of merger speculation before, but Panmure
Gordon analyst Paul Richards said a deal with True North sounded
True North, which concluded a protracted deal to buy rival ad group
Bozell Jacobs Kenyon and Eckhardt last month, already has a 4 per cent
stake in Shandwick. Its other PR interests now include US PR group
Bozell Sawyer Miller, which itself bought Charles Barker last July.
The news of a possible deal comes shortly after Shandwick announced a
re-organisation of its UK operation. It has relaunched its seven UK
firms as a single agency, and rebranded them accordingly.
At the same time, the agency’s regional director for Asia, Michael
Murphy, is to take over as managing director of Shandwick UK, reporting
to group chief executive Dermot McNulty. Murphy replaces Colin Trusler,
who takes up the new global post of group operations director.
Five of the seven UK firms will now simply be known as Shandwick, while
Welbeck/ Golin Harris becomes Shandwick/Welbeck from May. Only Paragon
will keep its identity in order to deal with potential client
The seven chief executives will retain responsibility for their own
profit centres and sit on a new Shandwick UK management committee, led
by the UK managing director. Each operation will also contribute to
joint ’enterprise groups’ focusing on issues such as new business and
The agency also plans to form specialist teams covering areas such as
broadcast, financial, public affairs, brand placement and
The move completes the integration of the original UK businesses
acquired by Shandwick during its massive growth spurt in the 1980s.
’These changes both simplify our operations and will reveal a better
connected organisation,’ said Trusler, who led the re-branding