Teneo acquires French advisory firm to expand ESG offering

Teneo has bought Societer, a French firm focusing on sustainable leadership, to boost its overseas operations.

Philippe Blanchard, Aurélie Motta-Rivey, Mathilde Oliveau and Olivier Jay.
Philippe Blanchard, Aurélie Motta-Rivey, Mathilde Oliveau and Olivier Jay.

Teneo, the global corporate and financial comms agency, has bought Societer, a leading French advisory firm specialising in ESG and sustainable leadership. 

The acquisition will expand Teneo’s operations in France as well as the firm’s broader European ESG service offering. 

It comes at a time of feverish activity in the corporate PR world.

Earlier this week Teneo rivals, FGH and Sard Verbinnen, announced they are to merge. And last week FGH poached two of Teneo’s most high profile advisers, Sir Craig Oliver and Amber Rudd

Societer specialises in advising CEOs and senior business leaders on a range of ESG-related topics, including sustainable development, engagement on environmental matters and diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Aurélie Motta-Rivey and Mathilde Oliveau, president and director general of Societer respectively, will join Teneo France’s management team as senior MDs, reporting to Olivier Jay, president of Teneo France. Nathalie de Gaulle, a co-founder of Societer, becomes senior adviser at Teneo.

Following the transaction, Teneo will have about 20 consultants in France and says it has plans to “further expand and diversify” its offering in the country.

“We were struck by Societer’s pioneering approach and ability to convene leaders from the worlds of business, policy, public institutions and civil society,” said Philippe Blanchard, president of Teneo Continental Europe. “This acquisition will allow our clients to benefit from their counsel on sustainable leadership at a time when businesses are increasingly grappling with their positions on societal issues.”

This is further expansion by Teneo, which already has more than 1,300 employees located in more than 35 offices around the world. 

It is thought to have strategic comms revenues of about $280m annually, putting it slightly ahead of FTI Consulting with about $250m of such revenues. Both of these agencies also have large management consultancy and restructuring divisions.

Pure-play global corporate comms rival, Brunswick, had close to $325m revenues last year. And once FGH and Sard Verbinnen merge, the new firm will claim $330m in annual revenues.

Motta-Rivey said: “Becoming part of Teneo and its world-class global business focused on CEOs will allow us to expand the reach of our clients. It elevates our consultancy offer in sustainable leadership to the international level, very much reflecting the nature of societal issues that are, by definition, both local and global.” 

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