Teneo, the CVC-owned US public relations firm, is set to deepen its footprint in the UK financial communications market with the purchase of smaller rival Tulchan, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The deal, which is set to be announced as soon as Tuesday, marks the latest round of consolidation in the niche but lucrative business of providing strategic communications advice to corporations, investors and executives.
The purchase indicates that Teneo, which was acquired by private equity firm CVC in 2019, is looking to bounce back from two different reputational crises that led to the departure of founding partners Doug Band and Declan Kelly in short order.
Teneo, which bills itself as a “global CEO consulting and advisory firm”, faces competition in financial communications from the likes of Brunswick, FTI Consulting and FGS Global, the WPP-backed group that has been formed by recent mergers of multiple firms around the world.
The transaction is set to value Tulchan at more than £65m, these people said, and will provide a windfall to the firm’s founder Andrew Grant who launched the London-based business in 2000 and owns around half of it.
Grant, who is 59 and started Tulchan after leaving rival Brunswick, will remain at the combined firm. Tulchan had been exploring a sale for about 18 months and working with advisers at Evercore Partners.
With the acquisition, Teneo will pick up an adviser that provides communications services to corporations and investors including Unilever, Legal & General, Marks & Spencer and CVC. The firm employs about 90 people and has offices in Singapore as well as London. Historically, Tulchan worked with New York-based PR firm Joele Frank on deals involving US clients.
The acquisition is the first big deal by Teneo since Kelly, an influential adviser to many Fortune 500 chief executives, resigned in June 2021, days after the Financial Times published allegations that he had drunkenly touched several women at a fundraising party without their consent.
In a statement at the time, Kelly said he had made “an inadvertent, public and embarrassing mistake for which I took full responsibility and apologised to those directly affected, as well as my colleagues and clients”.
The departure of Kelly, who has since launched a firm called Consello Group, had temporarily put at risk the future of Teneo with some clients suspending working with the firm.
Paul Keary, the third co-founder of Teneo, who took over after Kelly left, has since stabilised the firm and looked to put it back on a growth path, people familiar with its inner workings have told the FT.
Teneo was founded in 2011 by Kelly, and over a decade of multiple acquisitions has become a giant diversified financial services advisory firm which, in addition to PR, also includes restructuring.
The New York-headquartered company has been particularly acquisitive in the UK where it took over several boutique PR groups, including Blue Rubicon and Stockwell, and Deloitte’s British restructuring business.
Teneo did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Tulchan declined to comment.