Sard Verbinnen to follow same path post-MBO

NEW YORK: Citigate Sard Verbinnen is no more.

NEW YORK: Citigate Sard Verbinnen is no more.

The firm is now known as Sard Verbinnen & Co. (SVC), on the news this week that the management buyout announced last February has officially begun.

Under the terms of the deal, SVC leadership paid $2.5 million to its holding company, Huntsworth, in January. Now that that has happened, management owns 51% of the agency. It will gain control of the other 49% as it pays off the balance of the $20 million purchase price by the end of 2009.

Huntsworth had acquired the firm when it merged with Incepta, the holding company that purchased SVC in a whopping deal initially valued at at least $58 million in 2000.

SVC president Paul Verbinnen said that management has in fact already paid approximately half of the $20 million, putting it well ahead of schedule.

Verbinnen and chairman and CEO George Sard led the buyout, along with ten other partners in the firm. Verbinnen said that once it is complete, ownership stakes may be spread further among SVC's 75 employees.

"The real opportunity here...is the opportunity to re-equitize the place," Verbinnen said. "Our intent is to re-equitize the next couple of levels down [in the firm] at least, over time."

Verbinnen and Sard both emphasized that the company's operations, including personnel considerations and client service, are not expected to change as a result of the buyout.

 "When we sold the firm in 2000, things didn't change much in terms of how we served our clients, and now buying the firm back, they're not going to change much," said Sard.

He said that 2006 was the best year in the company's history. The agency's recent work including aiding Thomas H. Lee Partners' acquisition of Clear Channel and Viacom's new CEO announcement.

"The market dynamic is such that there's a lot of demand for the areas we have real expertise," Sard said.

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