LONDON—Lord Chadlington’s Huntsworth Group—parent to Citigate, Grayling and Trimedia among other international PR brands—and Bell Pottinger parent Chime Communications are in talks to acquire technology public relations holding company Next Fifteen, according to reports in the U.K. media this weekend.
According to The Daily Telegraph, Chime is in exploratory talks to buy Next Fifteen—parent to international PR firms Bite Communications and Text 100, as well as Outcast in the U.S. and consumer shop Lexis in the U.K.—in an all-share deal, while Huntsworth, plans to make an offer in cash—although the paper says neither firm has made a formal offer.
Last month, Next Fifteen reported a 10 percent increase in revenue and 15 percent increase in adjusted pretax profit for the six months to the end of January 2009, and chief executive Tim Dyson indicated that technology PR budgets seemed to be rebounding. "My expectation is the U.S. businesses will by the summer have run rates very close to what they were before the cuts," he told reporters. At the time, he indicated that the group was planning to make acquisitions of its own in the U.S. and Asia.
Despite those bullish statements, however, the company expects revenues to decline by 10 percent in the second half of its financial year and has cut about 100 jobs across its various agencies in recent months. It share price has been hit by the same declines as the rest of the sector.
A formal announcement regarding acquisition talks is expected to be made this week.