WARSAW—Following an acquisition spree focused largely on developing markets in Asia and Latin America, MSLGroup has made a move to expand its European operations, buying 100 percent of Ciszewski, one of the largest public relations and investor relations firms in the Polish market.
MSL will merge Ciszewski—which is home to a team of about 70 and boasts a client list that includes BNP Paribas, Carlsberg, LG, Microsoft, and Poland’s largest insurer PZU—with its own smaller Polish operation to create a market leader with strength in technology, consumer and sports marketing (particularly relevant with the 2012 European tournament taking place in Poland and the Ukraine next year) and financial communications.
Ciszewski operates three brands—Ciszewski Public Relations, Ciszewski Marketing Sportowy and Ciszewski Financial Communications—that will be integrated into MSL and operate under the Ciszewski MSL brand. Jerzy Ciszewski, founder and president of Ciszewski, will become head of MSLGroup Poland, reporting to Anders Kempe, London-based president of MSL’s EMEA region. Sebastian Hejnowski, currently managing director of Ciszewski PR, will become chief operating officer of the merged firm, supported by Pawel Tomczuk, who leads the financial communications practice, and Monika Perek, managing director of MSL Warsaw.
Ciszewski has enjoyed impressive growth in recent years, doubling in size over the past 12 months and emerging a leader in the highly fragmented Polish market. It was named Agency of the Year in a survey of Polish marketers in both 2010 and 2011.
Kempe points out that Poland was ranked as Europe’s top potential destination for foreign direct investment in a 2010 Ernst & Young survey, and the IMF forecasts that the country’s economy will grow 3.8 percent in 2011 and 3 percent in 2012, outperforming the European Union as a whole by a considerable margin. According to the International Communications Consultancy Organization, PR spending in Poland was expected to grow by 10 percent in 2011.
Kempe says that the expanded Polish operation will serve as a hub for the agency’s work in the growing economies of Central and Eastern Europe—where the group has existing partner firms in markets including Romania and Bulgaria—but that he does not expect to have an office in every market in the region.
“Given the economic conditions and the status of the PR industry, Poland is an obvious location for a hub,” says Kempe. “We have worked with Ciszewski for a couple of years and we have had discussions with Jerzy and Sebastian about how this merger can help us develop a strategy for other parts of Eastern Europe.”