Huntsworth to acquire Dutko Worldwide

LONDON: Huntsworth said it plans to acquire Dutko Worldwide, a public affairs and lobbying firm based in Washington, for $33.6 million as the holding company aims to expand its public affairs network in the US.

LONDON: Huntsworth said it plans to acquire Dutko Worldwide, a public affairs and lobbying firm based in Washington, for $33.6 million as the holding company aims to expand its public affairs network in the US.

Since July 2009, Huntsworth has acquired Tonic Life Communications, Sund, and Connecting Point. It also announced a partnership with Atomic PR and a companywide restructuring that slimmed 26 agencies to four brands - Huntsworth Health, Red, Citigate, and Grayling.

"We've been wanting to expand our public affairs business for some years," said Peter Chadlington, chief executive of Huntsworth."We wanted to ... buy something in Washington to complete the network."

Dutko, which will retain its brand, will be added to the Grayling family of agencies and none of the firm's 90 employees are expected to be laid off, said Mark Irion, CEO of Dutko. He will report to Chadlington.

“What this is doing is really giving the Huntsworth family of companies... strong US government affairs,” said Irion. “They see this as a way to make a real foray into the US, a strong entrance into the US in the government affairs market. For us, it gives us the international network for public affairs.”

Dutko Worldwide, which has 11 offices in the US, reported revenues of $33.3 million in 2008. While the core of the firm's business has been government affairs, it has added public affairs and marketing services in recent years. It also offers lobbying and research and polling.

Some of its top clients include Abbott Laboratories, Booz Allen Hamilton, The Coalition to Advance Healthcare Reform, Citgo Petroleum Company, GlaxoSmithKline, and Johnson Controls.

“What we have been growing into is integrated government affairs and public affairs work,” said Irion. “This brings a strong public affairs partner for us, both to strengthen our public affairs and to help us expand rapidly on a global basis.”

He noted that clients are increasingly requesting integrated programs, which include both direct advocacy and strategic communications, to further their initiatives.

“It is certainly where the bigger, more interesting levels of work are, where you're really driving the corporate strategy for your client's major initiatives in the bigger campaigns,” said Irion.

The acquisition will include the addition of Lake Capital, an investment firm that Dutko entered into an equity agreement with in 2003, as a strategic investor in Huntsworth.

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