Murray and Milton sell shares in Murray Consultants
Duo will continue to work for the agency they founded almost 40 years ago
Joe Murray, who founded the business with Jim Milton in 1974
The Irish Times has learned that the shares were sold in recent weeks, largely to the company’s managing director Pat Walsh, whose stake has increased from 51 per cent to 75 per cent.
Executive director Pauline McAlester now owns just under 10 per cent of the business, with the balance held by other directors of the PR agency.
Commenting on the transaction, Mr Walsh said: “Joe and Jim will continue to be actively involved in the business. This is the conclusion of a 10-year succession process.”
He said Mr Murray and Mr Milton, who are both 68, will remain as members of the board of directors. Mr Murray is currently chairman of the company.
Mr Walsh would not comment on how much the co-founders were paid for their shares but it is understood to be a significant seven-figure sum.
The duo are probably Ireland’s highest-profile PR practitioners.
Both are former journalists and were business editors of national publications. Over the years, they have represented some of Ireland’s biggest companies and most prominent business executives.
This included Sir Anthony O’Reilly and many of his business interests, Ryanair, AIB, Glanbia, Grafton and a large number of natural resources and exploration companies.
Mr Walsh joined the company in 1997 and took over as managing director in 2007.
Mr Walsh said there were no plans to change the agency’s name.
“It’s a pretty powerful name and we don’t see any reason to change it,” he said.
Murray Consultants had a successful trading year in 2012. Abridged accounts just filed for the business show that its pre-tax profits rose by 17 per cent to €846,780 while turnover was unchanged at €4 million.
The company paid corporation tax of €111,907 on its profits to leave it with an after-tax surplus of €734,873 for last year.
It employed about 30 people during the year, with staff costs rising by 2.6 per cent to €2.2 million. An interim dividend of €287,869 was paid to Mr Walsh last year.
The accounts show that Grainne O’Brien, who manages a portfolio of financial and consumer-facing clients with MCsquared, its consumer and digital offshoot, was appointed as an executive director in 2012.
Mr Walsh said the agency has secured a number of new clients over the past 18 months , including telecoms group 3, German retailer Lidl, Dawn Meats, and consumer snack brand Pringles.
It also advised Grafton on the examinership of its DIY subsidiary Atlantic Homecare; the restructuring of food company Glanbia; the sale by Independent News & Media of its South Africa unit and group financial restructuring; and two acquisitions by stockbroker Davy.
In terms of current trading, Mr Walsh said he expects a “satisfactory performance” in 2013. “I think we’ll be very happy with the outcome,” he said.