City consultancy FD hit by loss of three senior operators

Three financial PR heavyweights have quit one of the City's top agencies to launch their own consultancy.

City limits: several recent exits from City agencies (Getty)
City limits: several recent exits from City agencies (Getty)

Charlie Armitstead, Greg Quine and Ben Foster are managing directors at FD, where all three have worked for over a decade.

It is understood that an email announcing their resignations was sent internally on Tuesday. The trio are understood to still be at the agency, although it is considered unlikely they will serve their full six-month notice periods.

FD’s UK CEO John Waples confirmed the resignations, saying: ‘They have been good and loyal servants for the firm and we wish them well in the future.’

The trio’s as yet unnamed venture is thought to be a UK and Europe-focussed financial and corporate comms specialist operating across a range of industry sectors

The move follows two other recent start-ups from senior UK financial comms specialists. Last month Andrew Honnor left Tulchan Communications to set up his own operation, while City PR heavyweights Philip Gawith, Tim Burt and Nick Boakes set up Stockwell Group in December.

There have been few significant City start-ups since Andrew Grant launched Tulchan Communications and Nick Miles and Hugh Morrison established M:Communications around a decade ago.

The spate of City start-ups is thought to be related to a lack of opportunity to own significant equity slices of existing City players.

Another key motivation for the departures is understood to be FD’s evolution from a financial comms specialist into a global strategic consultancy. One industry source claimed: 'FD is now a broad-based international consultancy and it is no longer the most dynamic place to be if you want to be a focussed financial PR professional.'

The three FD resignations are also understood to be related to the end of FD’s earn-out period after it was bought by FTI Consulting in 2006, which has freed a number of long-serving FD consultants to move on.

Commenting on the latest development, an insider said: ‘All three area good operators but they’re coming out into an increasingly tough marketplace, especially if they’re not able to take clients with them.’

Key players

Charles Armitstead, MD: Joined FD in 1999 and worked on clients including Heineken International and Virgin Active. Advised on a number of high profile M&A's including Aviva's $3bn acquisition of AmerUs Inc.

Greg Quine, MD: Joined FD in 2000 from J.P Morgan to head up the Financial Intelligence Unit, informing on financial comms strategies. Clients included Heineken, CocaCola Hellenic, Novartis and Elementis.

Benjamin Foster, MD: Joined FD in April 2000 from Citigate Dewe Rogerson, where he spent seven years working on UK M&A, flotation and privatisation work. Worked with clients including Greene King, easyJet and National Express.

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