WASHINGTON, DC—The Stagwell Group—the investment group founded earlier this year by former Clinton aide Mark Penn—has acquired strategic communications and public affairs firm SKDKnickerbocker through its Stagwell Media private equity fund.
Founded in 1968 by renowned political consultant Bob Squier, who was later joined by partners Bill Knapp and Anita Dunn, SKDK has become the one of the most prominent progressive political consulting firm in the US, with offices in Washington, DC, New York City, Los Angeles and Albany, NY.
The firm’s management team includes partners Josh Isay and Jennifer Cunningham in New York and Hilary Rosen in Washington and its services range from public affairs, media relations, political consulting, opinion research, crisis communications, digital strategy, corporate reputation, to paid advertising and brand positioning.
SKDK will continue to operate independently within Stagwell as a stand-alone public affairs unit run by the same management team and principals, who all are under long-term contracts with the firm.
The Stagwell Group was formed in June 2015 by former Burson-Masteller chief executive Mark Penn, who also serves as the managing partner of Stagwell Media. Former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer—with whom Penn worked in a senior advisory role at the software giant—is a core investor and the group has raised $250 million in capital and may leverage that to make up to $750 million in acquisitions.
According to Penn, “SKD is “a terrific and talented firm in the critical growing area of strategic corporate and political communications. They have great potential to grow in the digital age.”
Adds Isay, “The ability to work with the Stagwell team and the companies they will have under their umbrella will enhance services for our clients, particularly in the growing fields of data analytics and digital innovation.”
Prosper Group, a consulting firm advising owners of marketing communications agencies, served as transaction advisors to SKDKnickerbocker. The Group’s work with SKDK included identifying and evaluating offers from multiple buyers, advising throughout the negotiation process, and counsel during due diligence, legal documentation. The firm will also play a role in the integration process.