APCO has established itself as a leader in the public affairs market in Asia, with a particularly strong operation in mainland China, where it has 90 people in four offices, based on its acquisition in 1999 of Batey Burn, which provides investment consultancy and market entry services. GCI Group has public relations operations in Hong Kong and Japan.
Hong Kong will be the center of the new collaboration will be in Hong Kong, with Richard Burn, currently joint managing director of APCO Asia, assuming responsibility as managing director of GCI/APCO in Asia and in Hong Kong. Nicholas Walters, who had been heading up the region for GCI, will return to the United Kingdom after completing two years in Hong Kong, and Mark Michelson will become vice-chairman of APCO Asia, with responsibility for marketing, business development and client relationships.
“We believe this relationship will greatly enhance our offering to our clients,” says Bob Feldman, GCI Group CEO. “APCO is particularly strong in China and will open up this market for our clients at a very strategic time. The partnership expands our intellectual capabilities in the region and it gives APCO greater geographic coverage.”
APCO chief executive Margery Kraus, meanwhile, says she is particularly pleased to be able to an “on the ground” presence in Japan.
Feldman says partnership made sense in Asia because the market for public relations services there is still maturing and because in the current economic climate firms are reluctant to invest in further acquisitions, at least in the short term. But both he and Kraus were quick to quash any speculation that the two firms might merge their operations in more developed markets such as Europe or the U.S.
“APCO and GCI have actually been teaming up on selected projects in the region for some time”, said Richard Burn. “Our recent win of InvestHK over eight other consultancies showed us how successful we can be when we work as a team. This arrangement formalizes our relationship and gives us better access to each others’ resources.”