Finn Partners acquires Widmeyer Communications

NEW YORK: Finn Partners has acquired Widmeyer Communications for an undisclosed sum as the agency pushes further into the public affairs and education spaces.

NEW YORK: Finn Partners has acquired Widmeyer Communications for an undisclosed sum as the agency pushes further into the public affairs and education spaces.

Widmeyer's annual fees are about $10 million, according to a statement from the two firms. Finn Partners' acquisitions of Widmeyer, Chicago-based marketing and PR firm Healy & Schulte, and travel shop M. Silver Associates since its split from Ruder Finn in late 2011 will help it reach at least $42 million in fees this year, said chairman and CEO Peter Finn.

The agency's goal is to earn fees of $45 million by the end of 2013, which would represent a year-over-year increase of 40%, he said.

“I've known Scott [Widmeyer] for 20 years and admired his company for a long time,” said Finn. “With Widmeyer's focus on education and public affairs, we felt those were perfect compliments to the work Finn Partners is already doing.”

Finn Partners reported 2012 US revenue of $26.5 million, while Widmeyer earned $9.8 million, according to the latest edition of PRWeek's Agency Business Report.

Widmeyer, which has offices in New York and Washington DC, will retain its branding and be known as Widmeyer Communications, a Finn Partners company.

Scott Widmeyer, founder of the eponymous firm, will remain at the helm of his shop, taking on the additional title of managing partner at Finn Partners. He has agreed to stay at the agency for the next three years.

Fewer than 10% of Widmeyer's staff will be made redundant as a result of the deal. The positions are all administrative posts, and client teams will not be affected, Finn told PRWeek.

He confirmed that all of Widmeyer's clients, including the US Consumer Product Safety Commission and the WK Kellogg Foundation, will be retained.

Technology is Finn Partners' largest practice area. Through the deal, the agency will expand its public affairs offering and make a foray into the education sector.

Widmeyer veterans Margaret Dunning and Jason Smith will continue in leadership roles, both taking on the titles of managing partner at Finn Partners. Dunning will lead its higher-education practice, and Smith will manage the pre-kindergarten-to-grade-12 education practice.

Jessica Ross will continue to head Finn Partners in Washington, assuming the title of managing partner. All three will report to Finn and Richard Furness, senior managing partner in New York.

Finn declined to reveal the length of executive earn-outs.

The firms will combine offices in both New York and Washington. Finn Partners' Washington team will move into Widmeyer's offices in the nation's capital, while Widmeyer's New York staff will relocate to Finn Partners' Manhattan office before the end of this year.

Finn added that his agency is focused on building its market share in the regions where it already operates. Widmeyer's strength in Washington, which is Finn Partners' second-largest office, is another reason why there was a “strong compatibility” between the agencies.

“One of the driving forces behind this decision was the fact that we've been going for 25 years and are recognized as a small-to-midsize shop,” said Widmeyer. “We have tried to offer full services to our clients, but at some stage you max out. We got to the point we wanted to merge with a family, like Finn Partners, that allows us to provide a greater array of service to clients.” 

He added that Widmeyer has spoken to holding companies in the past about a potential acquisition, but he was focused on maintaining the agency's independence, making Finn Partners a better fit.

“The offer will help us extend the kind of work we do, without stifling the work we do,” he said.

While Finn Partners has made a number of acquisitions, it is not planning any other deals for the rest of this year, Finn said.

Agency M&A specialist firm Stevens Gould Pincus brought the acquisition opportunity to Finn Partners and facilitated the transaction, the firms said in a statement.

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