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O'Dwyer's Newsletter - Jan. 30, 2012 - Vol. 45 - No. 5 (download PDF version)

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Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher and Kekst and Company were the top M&A PR advisors in 2011 by value of deals and volume, respectively, after leading the annual tally by mergermarket in 2010.

Kekst advised 102 transactions during 2011, 15 more than Joele Frank and Sard Verbinnen & Co., which worked 87 deals during the year. FTI Consulting (80), Abernathy MacGregor Group (76) and Brunswick (71) rounded out the top five by number of transactions.

Ranked by deal value, Joele Frank’s transactions totaled $170.4B in 2011, ahead of Brunswick Group ($166.3B), Sard Verbinnen ($154.8M), Abernathy MacGregor ($144B), and Kekst ($103.6B). Joele Frank worked the largest deal in the U.S. and globally in 2011, Kinder Morgan’s $37.4B move on El Paso Corp., counseling the latter. Brunswick and Abernathy worked the No. 2 deal, Express Scripps’ $33.4B acquisition of Medco Health Solutions.

Globally, Brunswick ($238.9B) and FTI Consulting (235) were again the most prolific by volume and number.

Mergermarket said U.S. deals rose 14.9 percent over 2010 by value, although the strongest numbers came during the first quarter and trended downward. The fourth quarter was off 25.5% over 2010.


Sard Verbinnen & Co. is handling media for San Diego-based Illumina biotechnology company, which has received a hostile $5.7B takeover bid for Switzerland’s Roche Holding.

The $44.50 per-share offer is a sweetened deal from Roche’s $40 per-share price offered earlier this month. Illumnia had been trading at $37.69 just prior to the revised bid by Roche.

Illumina’s board promises to review Roche’s proposal, but urges shareholders to take no action at the present time. It is consulting with financial advisors Goldman Sachs and Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch plus law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf.

Roche terms its all-cash offer as a “full and fair” one and remains open to engage in a constructive dialog with Illumina's management.

SV’s Cassandra Bujarski and Matt Benson are working the business.


Interpublic has acquired FUSE, a London.-based digital shop, founded in 2004. The shop serves clients such as Unilever, BBC, Deutsche Bank, Bissell and Tia Maria.

FUSE founders Doug Ayres, Simon Hobbs and Jon Meggitt will remain at their posts, reporting to Jonathan Hughes, president GH International. The shop will retain its own name.

Fred Cook, CEO of GH, says the deal strengthens his firm’s digital, interactive and creative offerings. “As the lines between PR, digital advertising continue to blur, these added capabilities will allow us to deliver more fully integrated client campaigns that span earned, owned, shared and paid media,” said Cook in a statement. FUSE also has a San Francisco office.


The Iraqi Center for Development opened Jan. 5 in Washington as a non-profit organization committed to strengthening relations between the U.S. and Iraq.

Its goal is to “reconstruct the Iraqi state and improve the lives of millions through economic revitalization, the strengthening of educational institutions and the solidification of the Iraqi-American relationship,” according to its federal filing.

The Iraqi government offered seed money to ICD to enable it to “get up and running as an organization.” Budget talks are ongoing.

ICD is headed by Karim Almusawi, a key ally of Iraq’s embattled prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. He had been U.S. representative of al-Maliki’s political party, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.

The Center plans an aggressive outreach program, targeting public officials, media, think tanks and educational groups.


Mia Walton, senior VP of corporate communications at Rolls-Royce North America, has moved to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as VP , communications and strategy.


Tita Freeman left the VP slot last April to build a public affairs unit at the National Retail Federation.

Walton exits defense contractor Rolls-Royce after a decade as head of its $7M marketing and communications unit. She previously held communications and policy posts at General Motors and the American Automobile Manufacturers Association. She was also an aide during the first Bush administration.

At the U.S. Chamber, which marks its 100th anniversary in 2012, she reports to senior VP Tom Collamore.

Rolls Royce NA has not been reached about a replacement.


Peter Roberts, who directed Hill+Knowlton Strategies’ issues and crisis management unit, has moved to Bell Pottinger in London to head its own I&CM unit.

He was formerly head of communications for BBC News, a tenure that included the 2003 Hutton Report inquiry on the BBC’s coverage of alleged “sexed up” Iraq intelligence.

He left the broadcaster after seven years for H+K in 2008.

Roberts also spoke for the BBC on the 2007 kidnapping of journalist Alan Johnston in the Gaza Strip who was held for more than three months.

Group managing director David Wilson alluded to Roberts’ BBC tenure in noting that in a crisis the “audiovisual challenge can be the difference between communications success and failure.”

BP, part of Chime Communications, was enmeshed in its own crisis in December after a series of unflattering articles about the firm ran in the British press.

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