Teneo ‘leading the race’ to buy US-based PR firm Apco

UK-based communications consultancy reportedly vying with BlueFocus

Teneo has reportedly held discussions with the backers of Apco, although it is believed an offer has not been submitted.

Teneo has reportedly held discussions with the backers of Apco, although it is believed an offer has not been submitted.

 

Industry speculation in the UK suggests Teneo, the communications consultancy, co-founded by Tipperary former journalist Declan Kelly, is one of the leading contenders to buy Apco, a US-headquartered public relations firm with more than 600 staff.

Teneo declined to comment yesterday on the rumours it is in the running to buy Apco, which has revenue of more than €110 million annually and staff in 30 countries globally.

A UK trade publications has speculated that it is vying with BlueFocus, a Chinese agency, to buy or invest in Apco, which has represented clients such as Merck during the Vioxx drug controversy.

PR Week reported that Teneo has held discussions with the backers of Apco, although it is believed an offer has not been submitted. It claimed Mr Kelly’s firm is “leading the race”.

It was speculated that the options open to suitors such as Teneo or BlueFocus include buying the minority stake owned by US bank, WindRiver, or launching a wider bid for majority control by targeting the stakes held by senior staff.

Heavy expansion

A buyout by Teneo would more double the size of the firm, whose chairman and chief executive is Mr Kelly, a former Irish Examiner journalist and a close confidante of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

The firm expanded heavily in 2015 through the July buyouts of London Agencies Blue Rubicon and StockWell, which added about 250 staff to Teneo’s roster. It bought Pendomer Communications in October.

Mr Kelly, a former chairman of Financial Dynamics in Dublin, co-founded Teneo along with former Bill Clinton adviser Douglas Band and Paul Keary, a former colleague of Mr Kelly’s at FTI Consulting.

Its client list includes Fifa, the world governing body for football that has been struggling under the weight of an alleged corruption scandal. It hired Teneo at the height of the scandal during the summer.

Teneo chairman Charles Watson has suggested the firm aims to become a “global business” through acquisition.