Two Sard Verbinnen MDs to retire by end of year

Debbie Miller and Denise DesChenes are set to exit the firm by the end of 2018.

NEW YORK: Sard Verbinnen & Co. MDs Debbie Miller and Denise DesChenes are planning to retire at the end of this year and join the firm’s board of advisers.

Chicago MD Miller, a 23-year veteran of the firm, and DesChenes, a New York MD who has worked at the agency for 18 years, are set to retire at the end of 2018, according to an agency memo obtained by PRWeek.

Miller and DesChenes had separately worked on business including Bass Pro Shop’s acquisition of Cabela’s, Danone’s deal for WhiteWave Foods, Wyndham Worldwide’s spinoff of its hotel business, and Eddie Bauer’s cyberattack response.

"They will continue to work until [end of year] and transition their responsibilities in an orderly way," the memo, sent to staffers on March 28, states. "As advisory board members, they will continue to be SVC ambassadors, available to assist the firm as needed, and help mentor staff."

The planned exits of Miller and DesChenes follow those of London and New York principals Elizabeth Smith and Patrick Scanlan, who departed in the past two months. MD Delia Cannan also left the firm last summer.

Counting Miller and DesChenes, Sard Verbinnen has lost more than a third of its partners since selling a 40% stake for $60 million to private equity firm Golden Gate Capital in 2016. During negotiations with Golden Gate, Jonathan Gasthalter, Dan Gagnier, and Renée Soto exited the agency. Gasthalter and Gagnier launched their own shop, and Soto later started her own consultancy.

General counsel Hugh Burns, MD Paul Caminiti, and MD Brandy Bergman exited SVC last summer. London office leads Jonathan Doorley and Michael Henson left the firm in August 2017.

All parties contacted by PRWeek declined to comment.

The corporate and crisis specialist firm said it’s hired 43 people in the past year, bringing its headcount to 200 staffers.

"SVC is growing at a healthy and sustainable rate while we execute on the strategy we started several years ago, which at its heart, is driven by delivering exceptional and innovative work and achieving the best outcomes for our clients across our platform," the agency said in a statement.

Sard Verbinnen has added Robert Hersov, chairman and CEO of Invest Africa, and Jing Su Vivatrat, head of strategy at Angel Island Capital and former CEO of the Asia Group, to its advisory board, effectively immediately. Angel Island is part of Golden Gate Capital’s specialty finance portfolio. The firm will leverage the relationships of Hersov and Vivatrat to expand in China and EMEA, according to the memo.

"We are very pleased with our partnership. The SVC team is extremely deep and drives strong growth across the entire platform," said Doug Ceto, a principal at Golden Gate Capital.

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