Incepta’s acquisition of Dewe Rogerson marks the end of an era.
Directors Roddy Dewe and Johnny de Uphaugh are retiring from the agency
they formed in 1969 and fellow founder Nico Rogerson will follow them
after a year.
The pounds 27 million deal will create a merged PR agency with an
increasingly international outlook. The claim of David Wright, Incepta
chief executive, that ’the merger will create one of the most powerful
worldwide consultancies’ carries some weight.
Outside the UK, Citigate has PR presence across the US, in South Africa,
Scandinavia and Asia. Dewe Rogerson is strong in Central and Eastern
Europe and has a stronger presence in the Far East.
Tony Carlisle, formerly executive chairman of Dewe Rogerson and now a
director of Incepta, says: ’The agencies are complementary. There is
very little client conflict and we are focused in different ways. For
instance, they are in South Africa, we are not. In the US we’re focused
on IR and they’re mainly advertising and corporate.’
In Europe the deal creates an agency with formidable credentials. Dewe
Rogerson is the undisputed leader in privatisation work but Citigate is
one of the few strong City players with its fair share of continental
European business. Its clients include Austrian utility EVN and Spanish
telcoms firm Telefonica.
In theory Wright and Carlisle will run Incepta as the two most senior
directors on its board. But Carlisle, with pounds 6 million in his back
pocket, says he will continue to devote 80 per cent of his time to
handling clients such as Orange and National Grid.
This may suit the ten directors of Citigate Dewe Rogerson. One
ex-colleague of Carlisle’s says: ’More than with most people you either
love or hate him but he has some tremendously loyal clients.’
’He would only go somewhere where he thought he would be top dog. It
comes down to who would have him on his own terms’ says another City
Carlisle might not be the sole top dog at Incepta but he will certainly
hold a great deal of influence within the group. It remains to be seen
if he intends to become involved in the day-to-day running of Citigate
The deal was struck at the right time for both agencies. According to
inside sources tensions were running high at Dewe Rogerson. One of its
former directors says: ’Dewe Rogerson had reached the stage where the
ownership structure was causing tensions. The majority of the shares
were controlled by people wanting to get out of the business and this
caused problems when it came to sharing profits and bonuses.’
The deal is good for Citigate for other reasons. Unlike Dewe Rogerson
there was little tension between directors. Prior to the merger Citigate
was run, with the exception of the now-departed chief executive Simon
Brocklebank-Fowler, by an old guard of key directors who had worked with
Wright for ten years. These include Jonathan Clare, John Rudofksy,
Geoffrey Morgan, Virginia Pulbrook and Ian Seaton.
A Citigate insider says: ’All the founder directors, with the exception
of one (Leo Cavendish, now with Bankside Associates) have stuck
They are known in some circles as the ’ministry of PR’, with a hint of
the civil service mentality. It’s a very nice firm.’
Observers believe that Dewe Rogerson will shake this culture up for the
better. ’What should happen is that the friendly Citigate culture which
has helped them retain so many clients for so long will be complemented
by the heavy boots of Dewe Rogerson which can kick down the doors of the
investment banks,’ says one City source.
There may be some fall-out of staff as a result of the deal. Associate
directors Irene Cervellera and Peter Clayton and head of research
Richard Buck have already announced that they are leaving Dewe Rogerson.
The directors who remain have been handed ’golden handcuffs’ deals of up
to pounds 300,000 in Incepta shares over two years.
Over the coming months don’t be too surprised to see members of ’the
ministry of PR’ depart. Key Citigate directors were all made
millionaires when the agency floated 18 months ago and have already made
While Wright may not have lost faith in his old team completely it seems
that he has identified the need for new faces in senior positions. Four
Dewe Rogerson directors - Cary Martin, Kevin Soady, Malcolm Nash, and
Jonathan Flint - have places on the Citigate Dewe Rogerson board.
Citigate Communications directors including Rudofsky, David Penfold and
Ian Hunter find that they no longer have board positions.
As is usual with agency mergers the success of Citigate Dewe Rogerson
will depend on its ability to retain key staff and clients. The only
reservation remains the timing, with many agency heads predicting tough
market conditions for the next two or three years, and the feeling that
Dewe Rogerson is not the force it was in the 1980s when it handled huge
But against this Incepta has acquired one of the most famous brands in
PR together with a flourishing international business.