M&A is well and truly back in the UK PR sector, and with new buyers - including management consultancy giants Deloitte and Accenture - entering the fray, what does this mean for the market?
This PRWeek breakfast briefing examined the state of UK PR M&A, reflecting on the opportunities for both buyers and sellers. Experts from within the agency world and outside discussed what makes an agency attractive for buyers; the best time to sell; what matters to clients; and what impact Brexit and other factors will have in the months ahead.
09:00 Chair's opening remarks
09:05 Spotlight On: Deloitte and Regester Larkin
One of the most high-profile recent events in the PR M&A landscape was the acquisition by Deloitte of crisis and issues specialists Regester Larkin. The acquired business has been merged with Deloitte’s existing crisis and resilience business to form Regester Larkin by Deloitte, one of the largest and most comprehensive practices in this highly specialist area.
In this interview-style session, former Regester Larkin chief executive Andrew Griffin and lead partner for resilience and crisis management at Deloitte, Rick Cudworth, will explain why they decided to come together, how they found the process, and what the advantages are for clients.
09:30 Panel Debate: What do buyers want? And when to sell
With agency M&A activity becoming increasingly common, this panel discussion will look at some of the things to be considered before ‘scaling up and selling up’; looking specifically at exactly what makes a PR agency attractive to buyers, when to sell, and the impact (if any) of the current political climate and Brexit.
10:15 Refreshments and networking
Warren Johnson, Founder and CEO, W Communications
Warren founded W in 2009, and seven years later it’s one of the UK’s fastest-growing and most-awarded communications agencies. Warren has spearheaded W’s ambitious expansion strategy that has already seen the company open new offices in Singapore, Amsterdam and Newcastle, as well as acquiring House PR in 2016. W has delivered best-in-class campaigns for clients from Levi's and W Hotels to Unilever, Evening Standard, and Belstaff, and Warren has twice been voted one of the Hospital 100 – the most influential and innovative people working across Britain’s creative industries – and is a regular contributor to titles such as PRWeek and Campaign.
Tim Allan, Group Managing Director, Portland Communications
Tim founded Portland in 2001 after a career spanning business and political communications. He spent 6 years working for Tony Blair in Opposition and then in 10 Downing Street. He was a key media adviser during the 1997 election campaign and then served as Deputy Press Secretary in Number 10 during the early period of the Blair government. Following that he was appointed Director of Corporate Communications at BSkyB plc, responsible for corporate and financial communication during the launch of digital television in the UK. He is a graduate of Cambridge University and of INSEAD where he received his MBA in 2000.
Rick Cudworth, Lead Partner, Regester Larkin by Deloitte
Rick has over 25 years’ experience in resilience and crisis management. He has been interim group head of resilience and crisis management at two global banks and has supported executive leadership teams in responding to crises including pandemics, the Mumbai terrorist attacks, share price crashes and Hurricane Sandy. Rick has also led some of the world’s largest multi-party crisis simulations and advised clients on developing crisis response capability. For the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games he oversaw the design of the Main Operations Centre, contingency planning for all major venues and a programme of over 200 simulation exercises.
Andrew Griffin, Partner, Regester Larkin by Deloitte and former CEO, Regester Larkin
Andrew Griffin is a specialist in strategic crisis management and corporate reputation management. For nearly 20 years, he has advised some of the world’s largest and most respected companies, helping them factor reputation into their decision making, resolve controversial issues and respond to crises. He has helped global organisations become ‘crisis ready’ and has provided senior counsel through many live issues and crises. He has advised organisations on issues ranging from serious crime allegations, industrial accidents, data loss and sudden regulatory intervention, to new product developments and market entry.
Adrian Pettett, CEO, HSE Cake
Adrian was one of the founding Partners of Cake in 1999. When Cake joined Havas Media in 2008, Adrian relocated to New York to launch the Cake north American business, overseeing the company’s work for the likes of Motorola, Havaianas, Volvo Red Bull and LVMH. Four years later, Adrian returned to the UK to oversee Cake ahead of the pivotal merger between Cake and Havas Sports and Entertainment. Appointed to CEO Jan 1st 2015, Adrian now oversees both companies, and established Havas Media’s first Entertainment Hub in London. Clients include Barclays, Coca-Cola, ICC, EE, Carling and EA. He sits on the Havas Media Group UK Board and the Vivendi UK advisory Committee.
Danny Rogers, Editor-in-Chief, PRWeek UK
Danny Rogers is one of the UK’s pre-eminent journalists covering the world of advertising, PR, marketing and media. He has edited PRWeek and Campaign and been deputy editor of Marketing. Danny has also been a contributing editor to the Financial Times and the Guardian. He has won Editor of the Year at the British Society of Magazine Editors and been twice shortlisted as Editor of the Year by the PPA. Danny is also a frequent contributor to broadcast and print media, including a regular column in the Independent.