Employees of Consolidated Communications have bought out venture
capital firm 3i’s 25 per cent stake in the agency.
The deal means that Consolidated is now 75 per cent employee-owned, with
the remaining quarter stake held by a private investor.
Part of 3i’s former stake was bought by 34 individual staff members,
including managing director and agency founder Alastair Gornall, who
already had a minority stake in the firm. The rest was ploughed back
into Consolidated’s employee share-ownership plan, the first of its kind
to be set up by a PR agency when Consolidated broke off from Scope
Communications in 1990.
The scheme now accounts for 19 per cent of total equity - up from 12 per
cent. Staff automatically join the scheme after six months.
Gornall said the rationale behind the buy-back was a mixture of fee
income growth, staff demands and low interest rates, which enabled staff
to borrow money to buy shares. ’It makes me very proud to see some young
people going to the bank to borrow up to pounds 20,000 to have an
enhanced stake in our business,’ he said.
3i’s investment enabled the agency to get off the ground with a staff of
23 and fees of pounds 750,000 almost ten years ago.
Ten years on, Consolidated employs 77 people and has fee income of some
pounds 3.5 million.
Audi UK has picked Consolidated to handle its consumer PR after a pitch
against agencies, including four-year incumbent Shilland and Co (PR
Week, 3 September).