Third-Quarter PR M&A Activity at Three-Year Low
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Third-Quarter PR M&A Activity at Three-Year Low

The declining economy finally had an impact on the number of public relations mergers and acquisitions in the third quarter of 2001, with deal activity reaching its lowest level in the past three years.

Paul Holmes

NEW YORK—The declining economy finally had an impact on the number of public relations mergers and acquisitions in the third quarter of 2001, with deal activity reaching its lowest level in the past three years. Only nine PR firms changed hands in the quarter, down from 21 in the second quarter of this year and 22 in the third quarter last year.
 
The value of the deals was lower too, with only $51.5 million in PR revenues changing hands—the lowest level since the third quarter of 1999. The value of the deals was boosted by three acquisitions involving PR firms with more than $10 million in revenues—biotech leader Noonan Russo, acquired by Havas; Japanese financial communications giant International Business Information, acquired by Cordiant, and consumer boutique DeVries Public Relations, acquired by Interpublic—but the remaining deals were for smaller firms.
 
Other domestic deals included the acquisition of The Geek Factory, a specialist in Internet-based communications, by G.S. Schwartz & Co.; the
 
acquisition of Chicago-based social marketing and public affairs boutique MSI Communications by Incepta; the acquisition of business-to-business shop Sage Marcom by Eric Mower & Associates; and the acquisition of technology specialist Excite PR by Neale-May & Partners.
 
On the international front, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide bought French generalist AKKA and Edelman Public Relations Worldwide acquired Dutch agency DLV Public Relations.
 
Noticeably absent from the activity was Omnicom, which did not make a single third-quarter acquisition.
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