LDC has exited its investment in UK reputation management consultancy Blue Rubicon in a sale to international consulting firm Teneo Holdings (“Teneo”) for an undisclosed sum.
LDC acquired a majority shareholding in Blue Rubicon in 2012 in a deal which valued the company at £28million. The investment was designed to expand the London based agency’s international footprint and service capabilities.
Since then, Blue Rubicon has opened offices in Qatar, Dubai and Singapore, and completed the acquisitions of research firm Hesleden Partners and public affairs consultancy Open Road.
Fee income over the last three years has increased 59 per cent while headcount has grown from 130 to 225. Teneo is a US headquartered international consulting firm which employs over 275 people across 12 offices around the world including in London and Dubai.
It said the acquisition of Blue Rubicon was the ideal fit, giving it presence in the strategically important UK market, while providing Blue Rubicon’s clients access to additional communications services and geographies.
Fraser Hardie, Blue Rubicon Senior Partner said: "Over the last three years, LDC has been a strong partner for the business, with its investment and support enabling us to extend our geographic reach and undergo an acquisitive growth strategy to achieve substantial global scale.
“With Teneo’s investment, we’re bringing together a compelling combination of skills to meet growing demand for reputation-related advice. We’ve seen a significant shift in the way boards and CEOs view reputation and trust. Leaders are looking to manage reputation more strategically and across the whole enterprise. Many now see the systematic growth of trust as providing the oxygen in which to do business - a vital element which maintains strategic freedom, accelerates transitions and cements competitive advantage for premium valuations."
David Andrews, Investment Director at LDC, said: “In 2012, we backed the vision of a highly ambitious management team to become a leading global player in the communications arena, with a significantly expanded footprint, service capability and scale. Almost three years later, the team has achieved that goal, thanks to the collective effort of its people and its industry-leading approach. Teneo is the perfect strategic partner to enable Blue Rubicon to continue its development and represents an excellent outcome for all parties.”
Blue Rubicon was founded 15 years ago and is widely regarded as the most progressive firm to have emerged from London in the last 20 years. Today it has over 225 people operating globally from offices in London, Doha, Dubai and Singapore.
Leveraging insights from its international reputation research programme, Blue Rubicon cultivates long- standing relationships advising and coaching CEOs and their teams. It provides counsel to a high profile list of some of the world's largest companies as they navigate high stakes moments including CEO transitions, strategy shifts, turnarounds, restructuring and integration post mergers and acquisition. Advisory services embrace reputation management strategies, corporate and brand narrative, reputation risk consulting, issues and crisis management, media and social media relations, political and regulatory affairs. Its campaigning has been recognised with awards in the UK, Europe and globally.
Headquartered in New York City, Teneo is an international consulting firm founded in 2011 by Declan Kelly, Doug Band and Paul Keary with a vision to create a new breed of advisory firm focused on working exclusively with CEOs and senior executives to help them address a wide range of business and reputational issues and opportunities.
This latest deal represents the eighth disposal so far this year by LDC and brings the firm’s total exit proceeds from all transactions to almost £300million. Other transactions have included divestments of leading price comparison website uSwitch to Zoopla Property Group and TV production firm Twofour Group to ITV plc.
Chris Hurley, CEO of LDC, said: “Our market-leading approach to value enhancement and strategic exit planning has enabled us to deliver excellent shareholder returns and business outcomes. This is based on a close collaboration with management to understand the changing market dynamics in their sector and identify partners whose ambitions align with the business’ key strengths. Our last three exits for example have been strategic trade acquirers which will enable the businesses to flourish as part of a larger international group. We wish the team at Blue Rubicon every success for the future as part of one of the world’s leading advisory firms.”
During the same period, it has invested over £200million of equity across seven transactions, including online travel agent Iglu, events and exhibitions group NEC, insurance technology provider SSP and holiday park group Away Resorts.
LDC recently announced plans to invest £1.2bn of equity into Britain’s mid-market businesses over the next three years.
The shareholders of Blue Rubicon were advised by Ingenious Corporate Finance (Jim Houghton) and CMS Cameron Mckenna (James Grimwood, Gemma Sainsbury and Narinder Jugpal).