Red Flag expands lobbying operation in Washington DC

Group chaired by Gavin O’Reilly buys one of the oldest trade lobbying groups in the US capital

Red Flag Consulting chair Gavin O’Reilly

Red Flag Consulting chair Gavin O’Reilly

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Red Flag Consulting, a Dublin-headquartered communications group run by Karl Brophy and chaired by Gavin O’Reilly, has bought one of the oldest trade lobbying firms in Washington DC as it seeks to beef up its US business.

It has acquired International Business-Government Counsellors (IBC), which specialises in providing technical advice to large corporate companies on trade legislation, as well as linking them up with Capitol Hill policymakers.

Its client list includes Ford, Lockheed Martin, the Cadbury-owner Mondelez, Shell, Toyota and Volkswagen.

Staff at the Irish business were informed about the deal on Tuesday. It is understood that Red Flag has agreed to pay a seven figure sum for IBC, which also operates the Washington International Business Council political-corporate forum. It arranges meetings between the firm’s corporate clients and US policymakers to discuss the impact of legislative technicalities on their businesses.

Red Flag already runs a lobbying operation in DC under its own banner, with a particular focus on food industry clients such as the National Coffee Association and the North American Meat Institute, which represents all major US meat producers.

Red Flag’s international trade expert and former US diplomat Melissa San Miguel, the head of the firm’s US operation, will oversee both the existing Red Flag operation there and the integration of the new acquisition. IBC’s veteran principals Solveig Spielmann and John McDermid,will stay on to help it bed in.

The addition of IBC will expand Red Flag’s staff numbers by 10 to about 60, which are spread across Dublin, London, the US, South Africa and Brussels. Its client list in Europe includes corporate such as Google and Diageo. It previously ran an office in Singapore, but closed it at the outset of the pandemic.

Majority shareholder

Mr Brophy, the majority shareholder, and Mr O’Reilly set up Red Flag in 2013, the year after their exit from Independent News & Media , where Mr O’Reilly had been chief executive.

Mr Brophy insisted Red Flag has had “a very strong 15 months” and is “busier than ever”.

“The pandemic is accelerating demand from existing and new clients for rapid expert counsel, communication and campaigns,” he said on Tuesday evening.

“This is a very important acquisition of a very prestigious and well-established Washington DC firm. We have a very clear vision of what clients now want and need, and IBC’s expertise perfectly complements the existing Red Flag offering.”