PR Firm Sard Verbinnen to Merge With Finsbury Glover Hering

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The deal is valued at more than $900 million to the combined firm.

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According to people familiar with the matter, the as-yet-unnamed combined company will be majority-owned by WPP, about 40% employee-owned and likely to weigh an initial public offering within a few years.

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Companies such as Sard and Finsbury exert influence behind the scenes in American corporations and around the world, helping guide boards and executives to best communicate with investors, employees, customers and the wider public. Demand for their services has increased as the lightning-fast flow of information online means corporations face more challenges than ever in managing communications.

The two companies together have about 1,000 employees and had combined revenues of more than $330 million last year.

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Founded in 1992 by George Sard and Paul Verbinen, Sard specializes in dealing with crises such as deals, investor relations and litigation and cyber security breaches. The firm employs over 200 people and its clients include major corporations such as Intel. Corporation

and Exxon Mobil Corporation

The firm sold a minority stake in 2016 to private-equity investor Golden Gate Capital.

The cash-and-stock deal would value SARD at more than $300 million, excluding the $15 million in debt. This would allow owners of the firm, including Golden Gate, to redeem half of their stake.

Finsbury Glover Hearing, owned by WPP just over 50%, was created through a January deal that merged Finsbury, Glover Park Group and Herring Schuppener into one global firm with approximately 700 employees. WPP, founded by former chief executive Martin Sorrell and based in London, is primarily an advertising agency. Its market value is around $16 billion.

Mr. Sard will become co-president of the combined company with Finsbury’s Global Co-President, Carter Askew and Roland Rudd, while Mr. Verbinen will co-chair North America with Finsbury’s Mike Feldman, who is currently Co-CEO. of North America, the people said. The combined company will have four North America co-CEOs: Finsbury’s other current co-CEOs of North America, Vinnie Lerner, SARD co-presidents Andrew Cole and Paul Krainhold, and Finsbury’s Joel Johnson. Mr. Cole will also serve as Deputy Global CEO. Finsbury CEO Alexander Geiger will be the global chief executive officer.

The Financial Times reported talks between Sard and Finsbury last month.

Major communications firms have been the focus of deal activity, attracting investments that can help fund their expansion. In 2018, Investcorp acquired ICR Inc. and the following year CVC Capital Partners took a majority stake in Teneo Holdings LLC. Earlier this year, Brunswick Group sold an approximately 11% stake to BDT Capital Partners at a valuation of approximately $700 million.

Cara Lombardo at [email protected]


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