Citigate’s transformation into a publicly listed company must rank as
one of the least surprising announcements in PR consultancy history,
given that David Wright has made no secret of this ambition.
Nevertheless the timing is interesting because it has happened sooner
than even Wright expected. This is mainly a result of finding in Incepta
a suitable partner for what will be a genuine merger.
Citigate has been one of the most consistently well managed groups in
the sector since its formation in 1988, and there is no reason to doubt
that it will continue to thrive in its new incarnation. Wright is keen
for the new group to be seen not as a PR company with added extras but
as a true diversified communications group, with more in common with
Abbott Mead Vickers than with Shandwick or Chime. The spread of
businesses in the new group lends some justification to this view.
Nevertheless, Citigate is still best known for public relations. And
like Shandwick and Chime it has a strong record in financial PR, which
means it has the advantage of already being a familiar name in the City.
All of this bodes well, not only for its own performance in the market,
but for the level of interest in the sector generally.
But we should not necessarily expect this to herald a flood of agencies
coming to the market. If anything the reverse is probably true. While
this week’s survey of marketing services companies from WKS Results
shows that there is a high level of potential M&A activity in the
sector, there are no other groups of sufficient size and impetus to
vault successfully into a public listing. Yet.