On current form, 1997 is shaping up to be a vintage year for
Charles Barker, sold this week to Bozell Sawyer Miller, is the latest in a
string of consultancies to go under the hammer.
With the erosion of the dominance of advertising, the giant ad agency
groups are muscling into the PR sector with a view to broadening their
appeal. Meanwhile the top worldwide PR groups are bolstering their global
offering in order to go after the big money in long term relationships
with multinational clients.
At over pounds 10.5 million, Charles Barker has not sold itself short and
BSM willingly admits to paying a premium for an agency that meshes so
neatly with its own strengths - as well as its international
It is, by any reckoning, a good deal. But the news will inevitably spark
memories of the company’s rise from the ashes of its former parent in 1992
- although the only Corporate Communications director to transfer to the
new company, Angela Heylin, was exonerated of any wrongdoing, and many
former creditors have continued to do a lot of business with Charles
If there is any cause for complaint it concerns the low price the MBO team
paid, and the swiftness of the sale which did not allow other potential
bidders a look in. Those decisions lay squarely with the receivers.
Even with this headstart, there can be little doubt that the new Charles
Barker has thrived since its rebirth. The management team’s reward from
the sale should properly be seen in the context of those five years. But
it will undoubtedly rankle with some.