PARIS—Edelman has clinched a deal to join forces with Agence Elan, the highly-rated French PR firm that has grown rapidly since it launched six years ago.

The Edelman acquisition effectively sees a reverse takeover of the US firm's Paris operation by Elan, creating a €14m business that employs 140 people.

It also represents a return for Marion Darrieutort, who founded Elan after previously serving as a director in Edelman's office. The deal follows the departure of Edelman Paris GM Florence Baranes-Cohen earlier this year.

Since launching Elan in 2008, Darrieutort has overseen impressive growth, to the extent that the firm's revenues of €8m have seen it overtake Edelman. Earlier this year, the Holmes Report named Elan as its 2014 French PR Consultancy of the Year, following 11% growth in 2013.

Like many of its international peers, meanwhile, Edelman has struggled to record significant growth in France in recent years, with fee income currently standing at €6m. 

Acknowledging the trend, Richard Edelman told the Holmes Report that domestic French players have had more success in attracting French MNCs. Elan, for example, represents Danone, L'Oreal and Sofitel, among others.

"It's an exceptional deal for Edelman," said Edelman, adding that no redundancies are planned. "This is about growth; we're not a holding group."

Darrieutort will oversee the overall entity, which will remain as two agencies for the time being. Her business partner Nicolas Narcisse takes on the role of vice-president, and Darrieutort confirmed that Elan's leadership team would remain in place.

"It's very important for me to be open to the Edelman talent based in Paris," added Darrieutort.

The Elan founder noted that the deal would help her firm invest for growth. "We needed more capacity," she said. "And we need to help our French clients access international markets."

Darrieutort added that Elan, which has diversified its services to include such areas as digital and content management, would serve as an innovation lab for Edelman's attempts to become a more integrated agency.

The deal is Edelman's second European acquisition since the arrival of Europe & CIS CEO Michael Stewart last year. A few months ago, the firm bought Swedish hot shop Deportivo, and Stewart told the Holmes Report that Germany and Brussels remain priorities for future expansion.