HONG KONG — Greater China managing partner Richard Barton is leaving Newgate after almost eight years with the firm, PRovoke Media has learned.

PRovoke Media understands that Barton will join Finsbury once he completes his gardening leave from Newgate. Finsbury Asia partner Ben Richardson and Barton both declined to comment, however. 

Barton joined Newgate in 2013, one of a number of Kreab Gavin Anderson executives to defect to the firm after an aborted MBO in 2012. He had previously spent almost 12 years with Gavin Anderson, rising to the role of Asia CEO.

SEC Newgate deputy CEO Brian Tyson told PRovoke Media that Newgate Hong Kong partner Kim Spear will manage the business while the firm commissions a search for "an additional senior appointment to help drive the continued growth of the business in Hong Kong and, importantly, develop a renewed strategy to increase our presence in mainland China and other key markets in the region."

A former Ketchum China VP, Spear has been with Newgate for four years in Hong Kong.

Tyson, who also leads Newgate Australia, noted that Barton "leaves the business with a strong foundation and one that is well positioned notwithstanding the current issues surrounding the coronavirus."

Last year, Newgate parent Porta merged with Italian public affairs group SEC, to create a business with 30 offices in 16 countries. SEC Newgate's Greater China presence includes offices in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai, while Terence Foo oversees Singapore. Newgate Australia is the firm's biggest operation in this part of the world, and Tyson noted that the group is "fully committed to growing its presence in the APAC region."