Holmes Report 21 Feb 2011 // 12:00AM GMT
More than any other sector of the public relations business, success in the high-profile, high-stakes corporate and financial communications consulting arena is driven by individual reputations. Clients are looking for senior professionals who have been there and done that in the mergers and acquisitions arena, who have the experience and gravitas to sit in a room with lawyers, investment bankers and other high-level advisers and offer equally concrete, equally credible advice. Angus Maitland is one of a handful of U.K. public relations professionals with experience and gravitas to spare, and the firm he founded continues to rank as one of the leaders in its sector of the communications business.
Not that Maitland is anyone’s idea of a one-man band. Chief executive Neil Burnett has16 years of experience as a financial editor and columnist and has worked on many of Europe’s largest M&A, IPO and crisis management projects. Investor relations practice leader Emma Burdett spent 14 years as an investment analyst in the City, most recently with ABN Amro. Financial services team leader William Clutterbuck started his career at the Financial Times and has experience in litigation communications. Veteran M&A advisor Martin Leeburn was the BBC’s news editor, business and economics. And they were joined this year by Sarah Hamilton (from M:Communications) and George Trefgarne (formerly with BP).
That kind of quality means the firm continues to enjoy a reputation as one of the class acts of the U.K. and international financial communications scene. It differs from many of its competitors in that it offers a sophisticated blend of media relations and investor relations counsel, including outreach to securities analysts on the sell-side and institutional investors (who make up 80 percent of the market in the U.K.) on the buy-side. In addition to a robust transactions business, the firm handles ongoing corporate communications, crisis management (including litigation support) and has successfully positioned itself as an authority on governance issues as they influence market perceptions of the company. The past 12 months saw increased demand for sophisticated investor relations services, particularly from midcap companies; a surge in crisis (and particularly litigation) work;, and more attention to digital and social media, including the production of a special report, How the Business Media Became Social, in conjunction with an Oxford academic.
Despite the overall decline of the M&A arena last year, Maitland finished in the top five in both the U.K. and Europe, according to mergermarket’s annual league table, and was number two in the U.K. by both value and volume of deals in the first half of 2008. The firm advised SSL (on a bid from Reckitt Benckiser), ABB (on its bid for Chloride) and Canadian consortium (Pinafore acquisitions) on a bid for Tomkins. Beyond the M&A arena, the firm advised Joe Lewis, the Bahamian billionaire, on a high profile, successful, two-month proxy fight with the board of Mitchells & Butler and is advising First Quantum in its battle with ERNC over the expropriation of mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Maitland also worked with Indian company Reliance ADA on a dispute in connection with the founder’s family and advised Europe’s largest hotel group Accor on its demerger. Meanwhile the firm continues to work with longtime clients such as Tesco, GlaxoSmithKline, BG, ArcelorMittal and 3i.
Says Phil Thomson, senior vice president, global communications, GlaxoSmithKline: “The team at Maitland provide robust strategic counsel and are a trusted adviser; essential qualities as we pursue our strategy to deliver leading communications in a transparent, timely and open manner.” There was new business too, from Man Group, Hays, QinetiQ, SVG, in the U.K. and from Uralkali, Uralsib, Hansen Transmissions, CEVA logistics and others on the international front.
Maitland has also continued to expand its role at the centre of the AMO network of financial public relations specialists in leading financial markets. AMO, which includes Abernathy Macgregor in the U.S., Euro RSCG C&O in France, Hering Schuppener in Germany and Llorente & Cuenca in Spain, added two new members— Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Konsulenten of Switzerland and Smink Van der Ploeg & Jongsma of The Netherlands—over the past 12 months, and has established itself as the leading network for international M&A activity.
In all cases, the emphasis has been on independent, objective advice, and on the ability to deliver “results with integrity,” which has proven particularly attractive to clients in a difficult economic environment.