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The 2023 PR Pitches and M&A Year in Review

Welcome to our 2023 Year in Review of PR Pitches and mergers & acquisitions in the UK PR scene with Andrew Bloch, where we will discuss the biggest, most seismic pitch wins and mergers and acquisitions that the PR sector has seen in 2023.

Andrew is the lead consultant - PR, Social, Content and Influencer at the new business consultancy firm AAR and a partner at PCB Partners, where he advises on buying and selling marketing services agencies.

He is the founder of Andrew Bloch & Associates, where he advises firms in the marketing services sector. His portfolio includes non-executive director, board advisory, consultancy and project roles for a range of businesses and agencies.

Andrew co-founded PR agency, Frank, where he is still a shareholder.

Before we start, The PRmoment Awards 2024 are now - OPEN! The final entry deadline is on Friday, 26th January.

There are some exciting changes this year; we’ve tweaked the categories, refined the entry form and launched a regional champions scheme with no additional entry fee to reach the work across the UK.

Do check out the PRmoment Awards microsite.

Also, thanks so much to the PRmoment Podcast sponsors the PRCA.

Finally, thanks to PRmoment’s data and insight partners, Meltwater, for supporting the show.

2 mins Andrew talks about December’s M&A activity:

PHA acquired Leeds-based creative comms consultancy MCG.

Premier acquired Edinburgh-based The Corner Shop PR. It will be renamed Premier Scotland.

Brands2Life was acquired by the Scandinavian holding company Paritee. Brands2Life has a fee income of £21 million and circa 180 full-time employees.

“It’s not easy for an agency to remain at the top of their game for so many years, and that is what Brands2Life has done.”

Paritee was set up by former H+K global president Lars Erik Gronntun in 2021. Jonas Palmqvist, the CEO, was formally COO of Weber.

6.30 mins December pitch wins:

33 Seconds wins Barbados Tourist Board

Finn wins Tourism Ireland.

Frank wins Jagermeister.

Wild Card wins Hallmark.

Red Lion wins Dementia UK.

Exposure wins Hendricks Gin.

8 mins Our Review of Pitch PR Wins and M&A Review for 2023

January 2023 Pitch Highlights

Premier PR won the Booker Prize.

Splendid and Flock won Ginsters.

MHP won The Royal Mint.

10 mins January’s PR M&A Highlights:

Teneo bought Tulchan.

“One of the biggest M&A deals in the sector. “

“Teneo will give Tulchan an international footprint.”

“I don’t think this will be the last acquisition we see from Teneo.”

12.30 mins February 2023 Pitch wins highlights:

Citipress won Siemens.

The Romans won Heineken.

“They become part of a roster that included Cow and Edelman...the first in a stellar year for The Romans.”

Finn won Wagama.

Good Relations won Kuoni.

“Kuoni is a big big win.”

13.30 mins February’s PR M&A highlights:

Waterland Private Equity acquired Markettiers.

“A landmark deal for Markettiers”

15 mins March’s pitch wins highlights:

The Academy won Marie Curie.

PHA won Suntory (The company which owns the brands Lucozade, Ribena and Orangina.)

MSL won Renault (The social media brief.)

“A very significant win for MSL, who have one of the strongest social media units within the PR space.”

Hope&Glory won Trainline.

Romans won Candy Crush.

Tin Man won Smart Energy GB.

17 mins March’s 2023 M&A Highlights:

Finn Partners acquired the Irish health comms agency Hyderus.

The Propeller MBO: Led by Kieran Kent (MD) and Jody Osman (business growth director), who acquired a majority stake from Martin Loat. The deal was backed by investment group Triple Point.

Here is a recent PRmoment Podcast with Martin Loat, where you can hear more background on this deal.

20 mins April’s pitch wins highlights:

Mind + Matter retained Superdrug

Hope&Glory won Powerleague

Ketchum won Iceland

Supermarket comms is about as tough as it gets.”

Ready 10 won Brewdog.

Pitch won Auto Trader.

Aduro won Tetley/Tea Pigs.

23 mins April’s 2023 M&A Highlights:

Edelman acquired Landmark Public Affairs, a Brussel's public affairs agency, to bolster its global advisory services.

WPP acquired Goat – which will become part of Group M Nexus.

“Goat is a very data-driven influencer influencer agency.”

APCO acquired financial comms agency Camarco. Camarco has 40 staff in financial comms, investor relations, corporate coms, ESG, and crisis. APCO UK has 72 staff and £11.7M in revenue.

“This will give Camarco global reach and deep expertise in corp advisory.”

SWNS Media Group acquired Pinpep. SWNS own 72 Point, and this deal helped build its range of creative services. 72 Point’s fee income is now £10M+.

“A small but start deal”

25 mins May’s pitch win highlights:

PHA won The National Gallery.

Freud won Pizza Express.

Teneo won EasyJet.

Kingdom Collective won Dr Martins.

27 mins May’s M&A Highlights:

Syneos Health was acquired by a consortium of private equity firms (Elliot Investment, Patient Square Capital, Veritas Capital.) All subject to shareholder approval.

28 mins June’s pitch win highlights

Alfred won Westfield

Academy won Epson; they join Wildfire on the roster alongside Milk and Honey (sustainability/purpose)

Brazen won Castore consumer and corporate.

H+K won Costa Coffee. Working with other WPP agencies.

MSL won FA’s The Greater Game campaign, which encourages 12-16yrs to improve their health and well-being.

Edelman UK won Haribo.

Portland public affairs won the Airlines for Europe brief - a consortium representing some of Europe’s-leading airlines (Easy Jet, BA, Lufthansa, Air France)

29 mins June’s M&A Highlights

Brandtech Group acquired 100% of the global digital media and marketing company Jellyfish. The deal creates the largest digital-only marketing group in the world, with more than $1bn in revenue and over 7,000 employees working for eight out of ten of the world’s largest advertisers and 49 of the top 100!

MSQ, which owns Smarts, has a new majority owner - One Equity Partners. MSQ is valued at 170M, according to The Times.

31 mins July’s pitch win highlights

Good Relations won Starling Bank

Fleishman Hillard won HS1. Pagefield retains the corporate brief.

Mischief won Team GB – – previously with H+K for the past three Olympic games!

The PR Network won Heathrow Express

MSL won Currys – the consumer PR account. Previously held by M&C for 15 years!

Ketchum won Dolmio, the Mars pasta sauce.

33 mins July’s M&A Highlights:

SEC Newgate got a new majority owner in a $100m investment from Investcorp, the global alternative investment firm, in a deal that values SEC Newgate at more than $250m.

Investcorp will become SEC Newgate's new majority owner with a c.55 per cent stake. SEC Newgate employs around 1,200 people in 22 countries.

34 mins August’s PR Pitch Wins

Stir won Dunkin Donuts.

Cirkle won Wilkinson Sword.

Social Chain won H&B.

Hope&Glory won Vision Express.

Mercieca won Wembley Stadium.

Ogilvy won Muller.

One Green Bean won Singapore Tourist Board.

Teneo won The AA .

Powerscourt won Rightmove.

Axicom won AMD Global.

35 mins August’s M&A Highlights

Definition Group – took £7M investment from ThinCats. Definition has acquired five companies in 18 months. Revenues now £10M+. And has a team of 100+

Markettiers acquired Sassy Creative

36 mins September’s PR Pitch Wins

The Romans won Deliveroo.

Stripe won Whyte and Mackay.

Taylor Herring won Sky Mobile Broadband.

Mission Group won The Post Office, Speed will handle PR.

Pitch won the social media brief for EA Sports FC.

Four won The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

MC Saatchi Talk won Elizabeth Arden.

37.30 mins September’s PR M&A Highlights:

Milltown Partners, the tech policy agency founded by Paddy Haverson and DJ Collins, acquired tech policy consultancy Teso.

SEC Newgate acquired Wepublic, a Dutch PA agency.

Farner expands into the UK with its Lansons acquisition.

In 2022, Lansons had a turnover of $16 million in revenue and 88 employees. Farner reported a fee income of almost $87m in 2022.

Financial PR agency Powerscourt was acquired by US-based advisory firm Morrow Sodali. The deal could be worth 50M. Morrow Sodali is majority owned by TPG Growth.

Here is the link to the October analysis of the Powerscourt and Lansons deals

40 mins October and November’s PR Pitch Win Highlights:

Tin Man won Mars Petcare, including the Royal Canin brand

Tin Man won Yeo Valley

John Doe won Sports Direct.

Frank won Not on High Street

Red won Toshiba TV.

ThreeSixty won Wizz Air.

The Romans won Formula E.

Hatch won Bet365.

H+K won Philips domestic appliances. Tin Man works on the consumer side.

41.30 mins October and November’s PR M&A Highlights:

Freuds acquired Lawless, a creative agency that communicates through art, which was founded in 2020.

MMGY Global was acquired by US private equity firm EagleTree Capital.

Havas acquired a majority stake in PR Pundit in India.

Splendid acquired DIY Creative, its 3rd acquisition in 2 years.

“It’s been a challenging year but a great year for many. With any period of instability, it is (also) a period of opportunity.”

“My prediction is next year there will be caution for the first couple of months, but in Q3 and Q4, things are going to fly. I’m very, very optimistic.”

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