Edelman hires Abernathy MacGregor's Suvanto

NEW YORK: Longtime Abernathy MacGregor executive Lex Suvanto has joined Edelman Financial as MD, based in New York.

NEW YORK: Longtime Abernathy MacGregor executive Lex Suvanto has joined Edelman Financial as MD, based in New York.

Starting Tuesday, Suvanto is charged with growing Edelman's special situations offering, including mergers and acquisitions, IPOs, and crisis management, in New York and the US. He is working closely with other leaders in the agency's global financial communications practice, including New York GM Rich Myers, Chicago GM Jeff Zilka, and Deborah Hayden, regional director of the capital markets and M&A practice in Asia-Pacific. He is reporting to Russell Dubner, president of the New York office.

Edelman created Suvanto's role as it is trying to expand its financial practice around the world, Dubner said. Edelman hired Hayden last November, and Myers returned to the financial group in 2011 after more than a year away from the agency. Over time, Suvanto's mandate will be increasingly global, Dubner added.

“Given how tied financial issues are to public affairs, employee engagement, digital, and corporate reputation, we feel strongly we have a great platform from which we can do differentiating work in the market. But to do that, we need to make sure we have top-class practitioners in special situations. We saw [Suvanto] as that and as a great fit for the firm,” Dubner said. “We're going to continue to invest pretty aggressively in building out the capability across markets, but in particular in New York in the short term.”

“Clients are increasingly looking for integrated offers that can make their communications programs work harder,” Suvanto said. “Edelman is also more innovative than the traditional financial PR landscape…given the changes in the landscape, there is a real opportunity to apply that kind of innovation to financial communications.”

Suvanto most recently served as MD at Abernathy MacGregor. He spent nearly a decade at the firm advising on issues such as CEO transitions, M&A, IPOs, litigation, restructurings, and investor relations. Prior to that, he held various roles in the UK and French offices of Havas and worked at Hearst Magazines.

CEO Richard Edelman tweeted about Suvanto's hire on Tuesday morning, saying, “We are going to make a real run at this business now.”

Edelman has 50 practitioners in its global financial group, including 10 in New York and 10 in Chicago, with the rest based in key financial markets such as London and Tokyo, Suvanto said. 

Earlier this month, Edelman said DeVries North America CEO Stephanie Smirnov will join the agency as MD of consumer marketing, effective July 29. Smirnov will also report to Dubner.

According to Mergermarket's League Tables of PR Advisers for the first half of 2013, Edelman was ranked No. 14 globally in terms of deal value and No. 12 in terms of deal volume. In the US, Edelman ranked No. 11 in terms of deal value and No. 8 in terms of volume.

Edelman has advised on transactions including the spinoff of ITT, Tempur-Pedic's $1.3 billion acquisition of Sealy, and pharmaceutical company Takeda's $13.7 billion acquisition of Nycomed, according to an agency statement.

Abernathy MacGregor did not immediately respond to an inquiry about a replacement for Suvanto's role.

This story was updated on July 23 with quotes from Suvanto and Dubner. 

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