MADRID: Spanish-owned agency Llorente & Cuenca bought its first US agency on Wednesday, acquiring 70% of Miami-based EDF Communications, a firm with offices in Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and Costa Rica.
EDF’s founder and CEO, Erich de la Fuente, will become CEO of Llorente & Cuenca’s US operations and partner of the global firm.
"We have been working together for [roughly] 12 years," Llorente & Cuenca’s founder Jose Antonio Llorente told PRWeek. "In a way, they have been our affiliate company in the US. It was a natural step from our side and also from their side."
With EDF on board, Llorente said there’s now a strong, English-speaking team with a deep knowledge of the US.
The acquisition grows Llorente & Cuenca’s Miami office to 12 employees.
It also builds on the firm’s recent acquisition spree. Since incorporating French private equity firm MBO Partenaires in June to help fund new growth with a cash infusion of $6.9 billion, Llorente & Cuenca has also acquired Madrid digital innovation consultancy Cink in September, and last month acquired Madrid consulting firm Impossible Tellers and São Paulo-based agency S/A Comunicação.
"This year, our organic growth will be around 20%," Llorente said.
Llorente told PRWeek the goal is to expand to 13 markets worldwide and bring on 500 employees by the end of 2016. Already the company operates in 12 markets and has approximately 430 staffers.
With the acquisition of EDF, the 20-year-old Madrid-based firm has offices in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Spain, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Portugal, the Dominican Republic, and the US. It also has a presence in Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela through affiliate companies.
Llorente said long term expansion and presence in both Americas has been one goal. Another is Cuba.
"To work in Cuba, you need to be authorized by the government, which is not easy," he said. But, Llorente said he is doing his research, following developments, and engaging with the business community as much as possible.
While US-based PR firms are angling to move into Cuba, Llorente & Cuenca hopes all its new partnerships will give it an advantage in winning business in Cuba.
"There is a big proximity between Cuba and the Spanish community," Llorente said. "We have links, historical links."
There’s an "emotional connection" between the Spaniards and the Cubans. Having the same language and existing strong ties to business companies across Latin America also helps, he added.
"Our plan is to take advantage of that," Llorente said.