Declan Kelly-led PR firm sells majority stake for $350m

Deal will see CVC take on stake in Teneo acquired by BC Partners in 2015

Declan Kelly-led communications and advisory firm Teneo has sold a majority stake to private equity group CVC Capital Partners for more than $350 million (€309 million), according to sources.

The sale would value the New York-based Teneo group, which has 19 offices around the world and employs 80 in Dublin, at more than $700 million.

The deal, which was announced yesterday in New York without any financial details, will see London-based private equity firm BC Partners sell its entire roughly 50 per cent stake which it acquired in 2015 to CVC.

As part of the agreement, management will also sell a fraction of its shares to CVC. Combined, this would hand majority control of the company to the private equity group, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said.


“The new partnership will enable us to further expand our operations around the globe to best serve the growing needs of our clients,” said Mr Kelly, chairman and chief executive of Teneo in a statement.

Tipperary native Mr Kelly began his career as a journalist, working with the Nenagh Guardian, the Tipperary Star and the Cork Examiner (now The Examiner), before branching into PR. He established Teneo with partners in 2011 and has since been prominent in the US political world, having served at one point as economic envoy to Northern Ireland under Hillary Clinton when she was US secretary of state. He is the brother of Labour TD Alan Kelly.

News of the deal, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, comes as BC Partners looks to raise a new fund within the next 12 months and it is keen to show good returns on its investments to potential investors. It recently sold Acuris, the owner of Mergermarket, in a £1.35 billion deal, which is expected to generate more than five times its original investment.

Teneo, which advises the chief executives of some of the world’s largest corporations, has more than tripled its global headcount to more than 800 people and has also completed nine acquisitions, including the UK’s Blue Rubicon, since BC Partners took a stake in the business.

The multiple on the Teneo deal was not disclosed but a person with knowledge of the financial terms said it was a “good, profitable” deal for BC Partners. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019