Whitehouse Consultancy MD Chris Whitehouse denies exit plan

The Whitehouse Consultancy has brought in an acquisitions broker to drum up interest in the business, but agency MD Chris Whitehouse has denied he is leaving the firm.

Denial: Chris Whitehouse laughed off suggestions of retirement
Denial: Chris Whitehouse laughed off suggestions of retirement

A document prepared by Benchmark International Brokers states that the agency's two shareholders, Chris and Anne Whitehouse, were 'seeking to exit to pursue retirement plans' and wanted to sell the business.

The 20-page memorandum stated that the Whitehouses were 'prepared to offer a consultancy period following completion of a sale to facilitate a smooth handover, subject to terms'.

However, MD Chris Whitehouse told PRWeek that Benchmark had, in fact, been brought in to help the agency attract 'additional capital' in order to facilitate the launch of a range of services, and laughed off suggestions that he was retiring, saying: 'I'm only 50.'

Whitehouse said he planned to launch three divisions that would provide PR, market access and event management: 'This should deliver record growth in the future, but to release this potential we may need access to additional capital.'

Whitehouse added that this may take the form of straightforward borrowing, venture capital or merging with another organisation, although none of these options was mentioned in the information memorandum.

Quizzed about the discrepancy between what he said Benchmark had been briefed to do and what was contained in the document seen by PRWeek, Whitehouse declined to comment, other than to say: 'I haven't seen the document. I have given you the full and true story.'

Benchmark declined to comment, other than to say: 'We do not have any comment to make on any of our clients without the signing of a confidential agreement.'

The document also revealed that The Whitehouse Consultancy had forecast turnover of £1.4m in 2012, rising to £1.5m in 2013.

In February, The Whitehouse Consultancy appointed Alessandro Fusco and Oliver Cardinali as monitoring and research executives.


UPDATE: The original article referred to the document being 'circulated to a number of public affairs agencies'. Benchmark International Brokers wishes to make clear that only parties signing a confidentiality agreement have received information in this instance and that at this time only one party has received this information.

Mike Power, chairman of Benchmark International Brokers, added: ‘We have found that in certain sectors the most effective way to attract a joint venture/merger or investment partner going forward is to introduce this aspect once an interested party has looked at the big picture, i.e. the whole of the business. It’s more than likely the case that shareholders as young as 50 stay as consultants to the business in any event.’

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