College Group acquires Merlin Financial Communications
• First investment following backing by Vitruvian Partners LLP
• Merlin to be integrated into College Hill, comprising the Capital Markets and Corporate practices of College Group
• Paul Downes appointed Chief Executive of Capital Markets practice
• Acquisition comes as both businesses record double-digit organic growth into 2012
College Group Limited (“College Group”), one of the fastest growing international business communications consultancy groups, announces the acquisition of Merlin Financial Communications Limited (“Merlin”), a leading independent financial and business communication boutique based in the City of London.
Merlin has built a strong track record and reputation in M&A, financial restructurings and debt re-financings as well as in a wide range of industry sectors, including Aerospace & Defence, Financials (particularly Private Equity and Hedge Funds), Infrastructure, Leisure, and Natural Resources. The Merlin team and business will be integrated into College Hill’s Capital Markets practice.
Following the merger, College Hill’s Capital Markets practice will be led by Paul Downes as Chief Executive, supported by five highly experienced Managing Partners: Adrian Duffield, Tony Friend, Mark Garraway, David Simonson and Matthew Smallwood, plus a further 12 senior Partners. The physical integration of the Merlin business into College Group’s offices at Royal Mint Court in the City of London will take place in early September.
The acquisition will bring the enlarged College Group head count to over 320, including 59 Managing Partners and Partners, working across 16 international offices. The combined Group acts for over 650 clients globally, including 15 FTSE EuroTop 300 and 10 Fortune 500 corporations.
Both College Hill and Merlin have experienced double-digit growth in underlying revenues in the first half of 2012.
Richard Nichols, Chief Executive of College Group, commented:
“We are delighted to welcome the Merlin team and business to College Group. Merlin represents an excellent complementary fit with our established Capital Markets practice. In addition to extending our sector reach considerably, the acquisition further enhances the strength and depth of our senior consulting team, a factor which is being mirrored across the Group following the recent investments and significant appointments we have made in each of our Corporate and our Government Relations & Public Affairs businesses. This approach is central to our growth strategy, and we plan to make further acquisitions of specialist businesses in key global financial centres and markets.
“In Paul Downes and David Simonson, we have a new Chief Executive for the College Hill Capital Markets practice and an additional Managing Partner, both of whom are highly experienced and well regarded in the industry. Paul will lead our Managing Partner team and will work closely with our other business leaders to develop integrated business communication opportunities across the Group and in delivering on our ambitious growth strategy.”
Paul Downes, Chief Executive of College Hill’s Capital Markets practice, said:
“The business plan and investment strategy behind College Group, together with Vitruvian’s financial backing for further strategic acquisitions in key markets, are absolutely compelling and represent the most exciting opportunity in the business communications industry for the coming years. We could see immediately how our business and approach would fit into the continuing evolution of the Group, especially as our clients increasingly want an integrated communications service with specialists and industry experts immediately available from across a broad platform.
“College Group’s growth story is attracting considerable support and its overall proposition and capabilities are likely to be of great interest to existing and new corporate and institutional clients alike in supporting their reputations and transactions within the capital markets on a global basis. We look forward to working with the College Hill team and to playing our part in developing the opportunities ahead.”
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