Maja Pawinska Sims 09 Mar 2018 // 11:39AM GMT
LONDON — US integrated travel and hospitality marketing firm MMGY Global has made its first acquisition in Europe, buying travel and tourism PR agency Hills Balfour for an undisclosed sum.
Hills Balfour, which has 90 people in its London office and 10 in Dubai, was founded 20 years ago by CEO Amanda Hills. Its clients include tourist boards, airlines, tour operators, hotels and travel tech providers, with divisions encompassing PR, sales, trade and consumer marketing including digital, social media, events, luxury and business events.
The brand will be retained and its London and Dubai offices will add the new MMGY London and MMGY Dubai brands. The two firms will begin integrating operations this year.
Hills becomes president of both brands in London and Dubai and will continue to oversee London and Dubai’s operations and work with the senior management team to grow the two brands’ European footprint.
Hills Balfour London MD Jonathan Sloan and Dubai MD Anthony Dalton remain in position and there will be no redundancies.
Hills Balfour is the fourth deal by MMGY Global since private equity firm Peninsula Capital Partners and Fine Equity Partners made a significant equity investment into MMGY Global in February 2016.
Over the past two years MMGY Global has acquired DK Shifflet & Associates, Nancy J. Friedman Public Relations, Myriad Marketing and Spring O’Brien. Hills Balfour is MMGY Global’s first major step into Europe and its first acquisition outside of the US. The deal brings the company’s total number of employees to more than 400 and overseas offices to four: Madrid, Taipei, London and Dubai.
Clayton Reid, CEO of MMGY Global, said: “We feel a great synergy with Hills Balfour, and this integration is our next step in building a world-class global travel and hospitality marketing company. Hills Balfour is the right step into Europe for us, and we see our foothold in the UK market as an excellent base to expand across the key European and Middle East tourism markets. Their reputation in-market, along with an exceptional senior management team and a loyal and long-standing client base, made our merger of operations an easy one.”
Amanda Hills told the Holmes Report: that the two firms were a natural fit: “We’d been very active in the Travel Consul network with MMGY so as associates we’ve been working on it culturally for the past five years. Six months ago we started thinking about whether there was a more permanent, bigger and better opportunity to offer global solutions to clients who had been asking for them. There are no client conflicts as we are very Europe and MMGY are very US, so it’s been really neat.”