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Howard Kosky, founder and chief executive of Markettiers4DC gives us the inside story of Waterland's £50m investment in the business

On the show this week we talk to Howard Kosky, founder and CEO of Markettiers4DC.

Kosky founded Markettiers4DC in 1994. Clients include Rolls-Royce, Linkedin and Unilever. The business employs a team of 150 people in the UK and UAE

As many of our regular podcast listeners may know, last week Waterland Private Equity took a majority stake in Markettiers4DC for a reported amount of £50 million. The business has been well known for its broadcast PR credentials in the UK for decades but it’s grown significantly in the last couple of years - with the growth of its research business Censuswide and its digital production firm Through The I.

On the show today we’re going to talk to Howard about the deal and what it means for the future of Markettiers4DC and his role within the business. We’ll also be talking to Andrew Bloch from PCB partners about its role in the deal and how the valuation of Markettiers4DC was made.

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Thanks as ever to the PRmoment Podcast sponsors The PRCA.

Here is a summary of what Howard and PRmoment founder Ben Smith discussed:

2 mins Howard talks us through why he decided now was the right time to sell.

“We were very pleased with everyone’s reaction internally to the shift in behaviour (required) to working remotely…with that productivity increased, broadcast popularity increased, the use of technology in virtual events increased and the use of data increased.”

“Rather than sell the business, we looked for an investor, a backer.”

“In professional services consultancy businesses, if you can get the people management right, you can flourish”

6 mins Why Howard believes the culture of Markettiers4DC is better now than before the pandemic.

“It’s not work-life balance, it’s just life. It’s where work sits within the parameter of people’s lives.”

7 mins Howard talks us through the shape of the Marketteirs4DC group in terms of the venues and headcount.

8 mins The reported deal value is £50 million. Is that what Waterland bought the majority stake in Markettiers4DC for, or does that include their future investments in acquisitions?

“They (Waterland) shared our ambition with the desire to create a war chest for us to match our M&A plan and ambition.”

10 mins Is Howard trying to replicate the broad shape of the UK Markettiers4DC business in America?

“North America is a huge opportunity for us.”

10.30 mins The revenues of the Markettiers4DC group are about £30m and the business has grown by about £10m in revenue (30% or thereabouts) in the last 24 months. That’s going some, how did they do that?

13.30 mins Markettiers4DC have been purchased by a private equity group. Did they consider a trade sale?

15 mins As a sell-side advisor to the deal, Andrew Bloch from PCB partners talks us through what his role was in helping put the deal together.

17 mins The private equity debt market is a tough one at the moment, did that add a layer of complexity to the deal?

“We were probably at a stage where we had agreed on the numbers 3 months before…”

23 mins When you’re agreeing on the final number, is it basically a game of poker?

“Waterland is a buy and build specialist”

29 mins Howard talks us through the due diligence process and the psychometric tests!

“When these guys come in they put a periscope us every part of your business anatomy…and that’s where the quality of your information is important. Because it is a long process, it is a very personal journey and they question everything.”

32 mins At a time when there is a lot of discussion about making PR a more accessible sector, Howard talks us through his personal backstory.

35 mins People will see the deal value and there will be a temptation for outsiders to believe that Markettiers4DC has been an overnight success. But business ownership is rarely a linear path. Howard talks us through the ups and downs over the years.

“The biggest challenge came in 07/8 with the financial markets crashing, we took a massive hit…for about a year (afterward) myself and my business partner put money into the business - bridging it..”

“There are lots of agency heads out there who have the potential to achieve as much as they want, the main restriction will be self-belief”

43 mins If Howard lost it all and had to do it all over again? Does he think he could?

44 mins Howard has just sold his business for a reported £50m, who are the people he couldn’t have done it without?

47 mins Howard talks us through the plans for Markettiers4DC.

“We have a vision of what we want to become…we want to be famous for the great work we do.”

If you fancy listening to this interview as an audio podcast, here you go:

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