EMEA Financial PR Consultancies of the Year 2017 | Holmes Report
Charting the future of public relations

2017 EMEA Financial PR Consultancies of the Year

Our 2017 EMEA PR Consultancies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 200 submissions and face-to-face meetings with the best PR firms across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Winners will be unveiled at the EMEA SABRE Awards in London on 23 May. Analysis of all Finalists across 21 categories can be accessed via the navigation menu to the right or here. 

Winners: CNC (MSLGroup)

It was a record-setting year for CNC—the European corporate and financial consultancy that is part of MSLGroup. In terms of the value of deals worked, CNC was number two in Germany (according to M&A bible mergermarket), number five in the UK, number four in Europe as a whole, number five in the US (where it actually worked on higher value deals than New York-based sister company Kekst) and number six globally. In the UK alone, the firm grew 25% in 2016, where it now employs 45 people. And the recent merger with Nordic firm JKL takes its overall staff strength to 200 across 13 countries. 

Highlights included Shire’s acquisition of Baxlata; Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto; the London Stock Exchange’s proposed merger of equals with Deutsche Borse; and Macquarie’s acquisition of a majority stake in National Grid.

One of the things that sets CNC apart is that so many of its senior people—including founding partners Christoph Walther (former head of communications for Daimler-Benz/DaimlerChrysler) and Roland Klein (Ericsson)—have experience on the client side of the business. That has helped the firm rise up the M&A rankings, but also diversify into a range of critical issues: crisis and issues management, CEO transitions, employee communications, and several ongoing corporate reputation assignments, including work for BP and Bayer.

The firm has also expanded its expertise in digital (and digital intelligence in particular), and with the addition of former H+K and Instinctif exec Ben Curzon, in the cybersecurity space. — PH

Finalists

Barabino (Italy/Independent)

Barabino & Partners is not only the dominant force in Italy, but it is becoming an increasingly credible player beyond the country’s borders, a difficult feat that has enabled it to distinguish itself from its homegrown rivals. The agency now has offices in London, New York, Berlin and Brussels, and continues to serve a range of leading ‘brand Italia’ companies overseas. Now worth around €16m after growing 6% in 2016 despite tough economic conditions, the firm employs more than 100 consultants, serving such clients as Intel, Blackrock, Allianz Global Investors, ABI - Italian Banking Association, Fineco, Unipol, and Massimo Zanetti Beverage Group. Last year, furthermore, there was new business from Apollo Global Management, Withers, Dell EMC, Suning Commerce Group, WeChat Europe, ENAV, Arla Foods, ICBPI, RCS Media Group and FC Internazionale.

The return to growth has come after CEO Luca Barabino oversaw a thorough strategic review of the business, resulting in the development of a range of new services to complement its corporate and financial strength. And that mindset is evident in the best of its work, including advising advised ENAV, the company providing air traffic services in Italy, on its successful €834m privatisation, and supporting Cairo Communication's fiercely contested takeover bid for RCS MediaGroup. And, in a nod to Barabino's own roots, the firm devised a campaign to unveil Genoa FC's new shirt sponsor, EVIVA. — AS

EM (Russia/Independent)

Since its inception in 2010, EM has certainly made an impact on the financial PR and IR landscape — in particular in Russia (its HQ is Moscow and the firm has offices in London, New York and Hong Kong).

For its backstory, EM started as the Russian unit of M:Communications before completing a successful management buy-out in 2013. This deal, in fact, took place just months before the Russian market fell off a cliff with sanctions, tumbling oil prices and a sharp currency devaluation. Yet, the firm survived and thrived. Today the agency has dedicated teams serving Russian clients in the international markets — for instance, the 15-person shop has advised on a significant number of Russian IPOs and ECM transactions, as well as M&As. In 2016, EM’s consolidated global fee income amounted to nearly $3.5 million and grew 25% year-on-year.

Clients include Aeroflot,Moscow Exchange, PhosAgro, Etalon, MD Medical Group, Sistema, VTB, MMK, X5, Detsky Mir (new), Morton (new), PIK (new), Proxima Capital (new), among others. Notable work includes the Detsky Mir IPO — the first globally marketed IPO since Western sanctions against Russia and required thorough briefing with international media to deliver the company’s story and overcome negative media coverage on Russia.

As the result, the $355m IPO received extensive positive media coverage around the world. EM also helped Detsky Mir’s IR department to adapt to life as a public company. Tom Blackwell, founder and CEO of EM, has worked in Russia communications for more than 15 years. The leadership team includes Sam Vanderlip and Tom Kiehn, Peter Morley and Anna Yarmarkova. — AaS


Hering Schuppener (Germany/WPP)

while corporate communicators in English-speaking markets are increasingly insecure about their role in relation to marketing, German CCOs are frequently adding corporate strategy to their portfolio and enjoying greater influence in their organizations. And in the German market, there’s no better corporate and financial specialist than Hering Schuppener, which led mergermarket’s ranking of PR advisors to financial transactions in Germany by volume and value (34 deals worth $113 billion) again last year and continues to be the go-to firm for high-stakes corporate reputation and crisis work in the market.

Last year, the firm worked for Bayer on its merger with Monsanto; Deutsche Börse on its proposed merger with the London Stock Exchange; Praxair on its merger with Linde; RWE on the spinoff of Innogy, and Innogy’s subsequent IPO (the largest in Germany since 2000); and Volkswagen on the dieselgate crisis, litigation support, and global repositioning of the VW brand. The firm also provided capital markets and issues management support to a who’s who of German and international business: ABB, Adidas, Airbus, Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Post DHL, Deutsche Lufthansa, Henkel, Honeywell, KKR, Lanxess, and ThyssenKrupp.

The firm’s leadership team has unmatched depth and longevity: in addition to chief executive Ralf Hering, partners Alexander Geiser, Tina Mentner, Brigitte von Haacke, Phoebe Kebbel, Georg Jakobs, Martin Bury, Henriette Peucker, Felix Schönauer and Simon Steiner (who rejoined in 2016 after four years with Commerzbank) are minority shareholders in the firm and veterans of corporate and financial PR, public affairs, and employee communications, with an average tenure at HS of more than 10 years. New in 2016 was Nikolaus Tacke, former European head of public affairs The Coca-Cola Company, who joined as managing director of the firm’s Brussels operation. — PH


Maitland (Havas)

After a period in which it's profile was a little bit lower than it might have liked, Maitland's growth certainly caught the eye in 2016, up 14% to around £11m. The 22-year-old UK firm has always been best known for the financial counsel it has provided to major British companies, but a smart a diversification has helped it navigate the inevitable commoditisation of investor relations. Practice strength in corporate, digital, litigation PR and public affairs now sit alongside the capital markets practice, which remains a leader, advising on 74 transactions worth a total of $44,441m to rank third in Europe.

Much of that strategy has been in place for several years now, but 2016 was the year when it came to concrete fruition, resulting in the firm tackling some demanding assignments, such as supporting Sir Philip Green and Arcadia through the settlement of the BHS pensions, and Vauxhall in its efforts to address the fire risk in its Zafira cars. There was also new business from Bovis Homes Deutsche Boerse, TUI Group AG, Barclays Bank, Seat and Age UK, adding to an existing client roster that features Ashtead Group, Aberdeen Asset Management , Amundi, Dominos, National Express, Serco Group, Standard Chartered, United Technologies Corporation and Vodafone Group. 

Chief executive Neil Bennett oversees a 50-person firm that now also includes serious corporate heft in Steve Marinker and Pete Bowyer, along with the creation of sister firm Chandos to handle Continental European corporate communicaitions.  — AS