Finn Partners buys UK financial services comms agency

Finn Partners has bought London-based financial services comms specialist Moorgate Communications, PRWeek can reveal - the firm's fifth acquisition in a little over a year.

New team: Robert Kelsey, Alicia Young (centre) and Chantal Bowman-Boyles
New team: Robert Kelsey, Alicia Young (centre) and Chantal Bowman-Boyles

Privately-owned, US-headquartered Finn has acquired the business outright from sole owner and CEO Robert Kelsey for an undisclosed sum. Moorgate has a 16-strong workforce and generates around £1.3m in revenue per year, with long-term clients including Deutsche Bank, Natixis, UniCredit and S&P Global.

The Moorgate team is to relocate from its Bishopsgate office to Finn’s London HQ near Old Street in the future. The acquisition takes Finn’s UK headcount to around 70 and its workforce across EMEA to 90. UK revenue was $6.3m (£4.9m) prior to the Moorgate acquisition.

Kelsey will remain in the business as managing partner, financial services, Finn Partners EMEA. He will report to Chantal Bowman-Boyles, managing partner, who leads EMEA from London; and Ryan Barr, managing partner, financial services practice leader, Finn Partners, New York.

The firm will be known as Moorgate Communications, a Finn Partners Company.

Kelsey, a former banker and ex-journalist who founded Moorgate in 2002, told PRWeek: "We reached the point at which we needed to grow. The next stage for us would have been a New York office, a Singapore office, and we have struggled in that sense. We needed to grow out geographically and in terms of sectors we serviced."

He said there was "a lot of empathy" between Finn and Moorgate "in terms of values and ideas", along with "staggering synergies" – for example, adding the banking comms expertise to Finn's tech clients.

Kelsey suggested Moorgate could "dissipate" some employees across Europe, especially in banking centres such as Frankfurt, where Finn has an office. "We’ve always said Frankfurt is a banking centre, we should have financial services people there. Part of the problem we had was that Moorgate didn’t have the bandwidth to create infrastructure in other countries."

He stressed that any such move would be unconnected to Brexit.

Bowman-Boyles added: "We see already these great synergies between what the tech team doing and what [Kelsey's] team is doing. A lot of the tech clients want to be in the financial services press. People on Robert’s team have got a better understanding of bringing the two groups of experts together. It will make us much stronger and able to win business."

Regarding concerns over Brexit, she added: "Peter [Finn, founding partner] has said, 'I believe in London and I always believe in London and it’s also an important market for Finn Partners and our growth'."

Moorgate is Finn Partners’ second acquisition in London in a little over a year. Last January, it acquired travel PR specialist Brighter Group, swelling the UK workforce by 22 and adding about £2m in revenue.

So far this year it has also acquired Boston agency Small Army and the 30-strong Hong Kong-based hospitality specialist CatchOn. In October 2018 it snapped up New York’s Missy Farren & Associates.

Acquisitions

Other investments in recent years have included multi-country business ABI Marketing Public Relations, Washington DC-based Greenfield Belser, and Ying Communications of Singapore. Stagwell Group, the investment advisory firm founded by former Burson-Marsteller CEO Mark Penn in 2015, took an investment in Finn Partners in September 2016.

Regarding future acquisitions, Finn Partners managing partner Alicia Young told PRWeek: "There will be additional opportunities that [Peter Finn] is working on but nothing imminent."

Peter Finn said: "Our financial services business is a growth sector for us in the US, and we have been eager to add a financial services team in EMEA so that we can offer our clients support in the key European financial centers where we have offices, which are London, Paris and Frankfurt. Moorgate Communications has an excellent reputation as a provider of highly specialised campaigns for international banks and other complex financial institutions. Bringing them on board is the perfect solution for us.

"Building our presence in London has been a top priority."

Finn Partners saw a five per cent jump in revenue in 2017 to $81.9m (£63.8), according to the PRWeek Agency Business Report. It employs around 800 people globally.

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