City & Corporate: Finsbury takes on rivals

Merger Finsbury joins forces with US consultancy to create RLM Finsbury.

Finsbury has signalled its intention to take on Brunswick and FD on a global stage after its merger with one of the US' top corporate comms consultancies.

It was announced last week that Finsbury, one of the top two City firms in London, is to merge with US firm Robinson Lerer & Montgomery to create RLM Finsbury.

It is understood the merger between the two WPP companies saw no cash change hands and was driven by a desire to create a global reputation management consultancy to take on those built by rivals Brunswick and FD.

Finsbury has appeared in the top end of global league tables for capital markets work, but previously lacked the firepower of rivals in the US with its New York office of just 15.

But one London-based agency boss questioned the strategic rationale of the deal, commenting: 'If you're the number one corporate, financial and M&A adviser in London, surely you want to merge with the top corporate, financial and M&A adviser in New York?'

RLM has not historically worked in the financial PR space and is consistently below Finsbury in US league tables. But Finsbury partner Rollo Head insisted that the firms were a natural fit, bringing Finsbury's transactional expertise to the US and RLM's experience of crisis comms and corporate positioning work to Europe to 'develop that combined offering through the Middle East and Asia'.

The new firm will employ around 180 people across the globe, with each consultancy previously housing 90 staff.

Finsbury's US staff will move to RLM's New York offices, while the operation will open a Hong Kong office in addition to Finsbury's existing presence in London, Brussels, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Head explained: 'We have talked to RLM about an alliance for a number of years, but we've decided now is the right time to push forwards together.'

However, one London-based comms boss said: 'I'm not sure those financial PR firms are succeeding as global reputation managers. Apart from a couple of notable cases, global corporates facing reputation issues have stuck with the traditional global networks.'

The move has also been seen as further evidence of the crowded London financial PR market forcing firms to look internationally for growth opportunities.

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