Brunswick's Carter hire sparks rumours of sale

Brunswick's appointment this week of former Ofcom chief executive Stephen Carter is a 'clear signal' that the consultancy is preparing for a sale, ­according to City experts. Brunswick continues to deny such rumours.

As reported on PRWeek.com this Tuesday, Carter will join the City PR firm in the new role of group chief executive on 1 March. He will report directly to founder and chairman Alan Parker.

The CEO of a leading City PR agency told PRWeek: ‘I absolutely think this is a move to put Brunswick up for sale.'Jim Surguy, MD of Results Business Consulting, an M&A consultancy that specialises in marketing services firms, said: ‘The international M&A market in which Brunswick specialises is booming and firms need global comms support. This makes the agency an attractive proposition.'

Surguy said Carter's role would leave him ‘well placed to stay with the business and move it forward should there be a sale and [others] left'.

A former senior executive at Brunswick said: ‘This points to some management rigour being put in ahead of a sale. And also that the company wants to broaden its offer and be more of a full-service agency.'

But Lorna Tilbian, executive director at Numis Securities, said: ‘I don't think this necessarily heralds that Brunswick is thinking of selling. If it is then it is an excellent appointment but equally it could signal that the agency is growing globally and needs more professional management. Either way it's a great coup for the industry.'

Susan Gilchrist, Brunswick senior partner UK, said: ‘This is not a sign that we intend to float or put the business up for sale. We created this role as we ­recognised the need for a more professional approach to managing the business. The move will allow Alan [Parker] and the partners to concentrate more on client-focused work.'

Angus Maitland, founder of City shop Maitland, told PRWeek: ‘This is good news for the ­industry, demonstrating that PR can attract top management figureheads. It should breed yet more confidence in the PR sector.'

Brunswick is a 300-strong consultancy, with 56 partners working across 12 offices in eight countries. A further two offices, one in Dubai and another in Italy, are scheduled to open early next year.

Carter resigned from Ofcom in June and had been widely tipped to take over at ITV - which last week unveiled as its new boss the BBC's Michael Grade.

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