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Since its inception in 2010, EM has made a significant impact on the financial PR and IR landscape — in particular in Russia (its HQ is Moscow and the firm has offices in London, New York and Beijing). For its backstory, EM started as the Russian unit of M:Communications before completing a successful management buy-out in 2013. This deal, in fact, took place just months before the Russian market fell off a cliff with sanctions, tumbling oil prices and a sharp currency devaluation. But EM stuck it out and has thrived, growing by double digits every year since. In 2019, the firm’s revenue rose 30% on an organic basis to $6.7m, doubling its profit and growing headcount to 26 serving Russian clients in the international markets — for instance, advising on a significant number of Russian IPOs and ECM transactions, as well as M&As.
New clients in 2019 included Baring Vostok, M Video Eldorado, Ozon, Sibur, SEMrush, ChelPipe, Familia and Sovcombank — joining an existing roster that features International Paper, Aeroflot, Moscow Exchange, Tinkoff Bank, PhosAgro, Etalon, MD Medical Group, VTB. And the work spans more than just transactions and investor relations, including crisis comms, ESG consultancy, perception research and reputation management. Campaign highlights included the first Russian M&A purchase by a Western company, (TJX) since sanctions began in 2014; and a string of other major M&A deals including the sale of 51% of CRT to Sberbank and the sale of 25% in Etalon. In addition, EM worked with Sibur to develop its ESG messaging, around its ‘Clean Water’ campaign.
Tom Blackwell, founder and CEO of EM, has worked in Russia communications for more than 15 years. The leadership team includes also Sam Vanderlip and Tom Kiehn, Denis Denisov and Anna Glikman, while new hires included former WSJ tech reporter Olga Razumovskaya and Alexandra Astapenko. — AS
Hering Schuppener (Germany/WPP)
It’s a tribute to Hering Schuppener’s management depth—managing partners Folker Dries, Alex Geiser, Brigitte von Haacke, Phoebe Kebbel, and Tina Mentner preside over what might be the deepest bench of senior consulting talent anywhere in Europe—that the firm has maintained its status as the leading German advisor on mergers and acquisitions and other “special situations” (it advised on 40 deals worth close to $42 billion in 2019) for the past decade while also seeing fee income top $60 million last year—enough to rank Hering Schuppener among the world’s top 40 PR agencies.
The firm brought in additional talent in the past year, with new hires including Robert Vollrath, former deputy global head of investor relations at Deutsche Bank; Lutz Stroppe, former State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Health; and Gregoire Verdeaux, from his position as international policy director at Vodafone, to strengthen the Brussels office.
In addition to leading the German M&A ranking, Hering Schuppener continues to work with UK partner Finsbury (owned by WPP, which also holds a majority stake in the German agency) to rank number one in Europe, working on 145 deals, while globally the partnership was involved in 200 transactions. Highlights included representing Bayer in its acquisition of Monsanto.
But while the M&A work is high profile, Hering Schuppener’s expertise goes far beyond its capital markets work to include crisis communications (it continues working with Volkswagen on the aftermath of the “deiselgate” crisis, has helped Deutsche Bank with reputation management as its name continues to surface in investigations into Donald Trump’s financial dealings); public affairs, with the Berlin-led business doubling in size in recent years; employee engagement and management consulting services.—PH
Kirchoff Consult (Germany/Independent)
For many, corporate and financial communications is considered the drier side of the business, driven by facts and figures and corporate-speak — minus the creative flair. But Kirchhoff, one of German-speaking Europe’s leading financial and corporate communications agencies, refutes that idea; that’s because members of the agency’s 60-person team — a well-mixed crowd including lawyers, analysts, project managers, journalists, designers and digital gurus — enjoy financials more than most. As chairman Klaus Kirchhoff describes it, the firm finds even the utmost in arid material, and the challenge of making it sing, downright inspirational.
Which, perhaps, is one of the reasons that Kirchhoff has emerged as a regional leader in handling communications surrounding IPOs, annual reports, CSR and investor relations. Active in Austria, Switzerland, Romania and Turkey as well as Germany, the agency in 2019 rose to €6.4m in fee income. With a commitment to “absolute precision” (although humor is apparently encouraged), Kirchhoff has built a client roster populated by big-name clients including Munich Airport, TUI Group, Lanxess, Volkswagen, Vibracoustic, PfeifferVacuum. Many of the clients have been partners for a decade-plus, a testament to the firm’s ability to grow and adapt with them. — DM
While well-known for its work in Latin America, LLYC (the former Llorente & Cuenca changed its name in April of last year) in 2019 derived roughly 44% of its $48 million revenue from its European operations, and has established itself as the largest firm in the Spanish and Portuguese speaking markets of the world, with extraordinary depth in financial communications (it joined the Finsbury-Hering Schippener partnership last year), corporate and public affairs, as well as in key sectors ranging from financial services to the extractive industries. The European network includes owned and branded offices in Barcelona, Madrid and Lisbon.
LLCY’s client list is impressive, a mix of Spanish, Latin American, and global brands including Coca-Cola, Multiópticas, Repsol, McDonald’s, TOUS, Sonae Arauc, Siemens-Gamesa, Mercadona, Bayer-Monsanto and Caixabank, with new additions over the last 12 months including, Mercedes-Benz, Ikea, Free Now, Aldi, Lilly and Spanish LaLiga. The firm’s 2019 name change was part of a larger rebranding effort designed to reflect LLYC’s stature as a client-focused agency offering clients solutions based on innovation, technology and combining a global vision and scope. LLYC’s high-profile work last year included a campaign for optical company Multiópticas, highlighting the harm caused by the number of hours we spend every day looking at screens. The initiative included a website with advice and eye-saving prevention measures, as well as a series of public awareness sessions in schools across Spain. — PH/DM
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