SEC Newgate reveals global acquisition targets and makes Africa debut

Newly-formed holding company SEC Newgate is targeting the US in particular for acquisitions and plans to open an office in Beijing over the next three years. It has also made its Africa debut - in Morocco.

CEO Fiorenzo Tagliabue: 'key focus on digital transformation'
CEO Fiorenzo Tagliabue: 'key focus on digital transformation'

The news is revealed in the company's Strategic Plan for 2020 to 2022, which also includes an aim to return to profitability and strengthen the balance sheet; implement further "cultural integration and harmonization"; new staff incentives and reward schemes; and raise its visibility and reputation worldwide.

SEC Newgate officially launched in September following the merger of Newgate owner Porta and Italian holding company SEC.

The business, which employs about 600 people in 15 countries, said it will "continue its acquisition strategy" over the three years, "with a particular early focus on the US, a key strategic market to complete the group's geographic footprint and to secure its worldwide reach".

The company said it "has very recently established a start-up operation in Morocco", which it described as "the first step in SEC Newgate's plan to achieve a strong presence in the African continent".

Chief executive Fiorenzo Tagliabue told PRWeek that Driss Benhima, former chairman and CEO of Royal Air Maroc and an ex-government minister, has been hired as MD for the operation.

The Moroccan venture is a parnership with a local agency, with SEC Newgate holding the majority stake. The business is called Cambre Maroc - SEC Newgate's Belgium agency Cambre has worked with the Moroccan Government for a number of years.

Today's statement says an "increased presence in the APAC region will also be pursued, with the expansion of operations in Greater China and the inclusion of two other key markets in the region".

Tagliabue said he expects to open a new office in Beijing, either at the end of next year or at the start of 2021. "We already have a small operation in Beijing and we're going to make it greater," he stated.

The CEO declined to give further details of the company's expansion but said: "We have a very ambitious acquisition plan."

Digital innovation

SEC Newgate, which is listed on London's secondary market AIM, today also announced plans to "develop a fully articulated market positioning for its research, innovation & digital transformation presence" over the next few months. This will encompass:

  • "An innovative approach to research applied to communications", developed in Australia and the UK.
  • An AI-based platform focused on sentiment and opinion-tracking, operating in five European languages and launched under a new brand and new set of tools.
  • A project in digital transformation "aimed at creating a network of digital transformation experts, multichannel storytellers and creative thinkers to help our clients to govern the challenges of rapidly evolving change in business, technology and consumer behaviour".

Tagliabue said: "Our three-year Strategic Plan, which will be updated and revised annually, will be our navigation system towards securing new business and strengthening our presence globally. A new phase in our history has started and we are all committed to ensuring that each of the group's companies delivers an ever-increasing quality and range in the services they offer, coupled with improvements in revenues and profitability.

"Our key focus on digital transformation is reflected in the Strategic Plan. It will ensure SEC Newgate becomes an even more credible and innovative player in the market."

SEC Newgate's PR agencies include former Porta shops Newgate, Publicasity and Engage Comms, alongside several ex-SEC consultancies, such as London-based public affairs specialist Newington.

This article was updated on Thursday afternoon (21 November) with more details of the Moroccan venture and the company's expansion plan.

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