Private equity interest 'very exciting' for PR industry

Private equity is playing an increasingly important role in the buying and selling of PR agencies, experts have revealed.

In conjunction with the piece on the market published this week, Madsen Consulting founder Mark Madsen and D5 Capital director Rupert Ashe discussed mergers and acquisitions for PRWeek TV.

Madsen pointed to last year’s acquisition of College Group by private equity firm Vitruvian Partners as a sign of a growing interest among PR agencies outside of the sector.

‘It’s very exciting for the industry as it’s being recognised that the industry is growing up and starting to deliver much better profit lines,’ he said.

Referencing a recent WPP report, Ashe added that the UK PR industry was starting to bounce back following difficult years when other PR markets abroad were struggling to show growth.

He also pointed to GolinHarris’ acquisition of Virgo Health as a sign that owner Interpublic was re-engaging ‘after being on the sidelines'.

‘The fact it is getting back into the market is a good thing. It shows is has recovered and is looking to buy,’ he added.

Meanwhile, Madsen pointed to agencies looking longer term at their sale prospects and identified both sports and social media as key areas of growing market activity.    
Talking of businesses that might be looking to acquire PR agencies to bolster skills they lack, he added:
‘Social media and the digital area are areas of the budget that firms haven’t really cracked yet.’

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