Maja Pawinska Sims 22 Sep 2022 // 3:46PM GMT
LONDON — Strategic communications firm Lexington has been wholly acquired by New York-based Kyu Collective, which runs 18 creative agencies around the world.
Mike Craven (pictured, left), who founded the 90-strong agency in 1998, becomes executive chair of Lexington and will continue to play a full-time role in the company. He will work closely with Emily Cook (centre), who has been promoted from MD to CEO.
Lexington is Kyu’s first PR and public affairs agency, and joins Public Digital as the collective’s second UK-headquartered member. Many of Kyu’s members are North America-based, with international operations.
As well as creative agencies, the group includes management consultancy, data, design and content specialists. The Collective’s companies exchange knowledge and identify opportunities focused on areas such as designing spaces and environments, innovating systems and products, shaping beliefs and policy, and accelerating transformation through digital media and data.
Kyu chief executive Michael Birkin (pictured, right) said: “Lexington is truly one of the UK’s leading strategic communications agencies. From the very start, we have recognized that if we are to wield the influence and impact we both aspire and need to, we will need colleagues who understand the corridors of power and the media that influence them. Lexington brings direct experience of Whitehall, Westminster and the wider centres of power to deliver strategic advice and smart, insightful campaigns for their clients. They are simply the right company to help Kyu expand into new terrains.”
Craven said: “I founded Lexington nearly 25 years ago and am immensely proud of all we have achieved. Lexington has doubled in size in the last three years. I want Lexington to continue to broaden and deepen its offer. We need a strategic partner to help boost our growth and Kyu is the right partner for us to achieve that. They are an amazing group of companies in complementary disciplines which will help us develop new products and services for our clients and help us expand our reach into a bigger global market.
“On a personal note, I have known Michael Birkin for over 30 years and his experience and knowledge will be of immense value to Lexington in the coming years.”
The deal was led by Jim Houghton, a partner at M&A advisor Waypoint Partners. He said: “Kyu has a very clear vision to bring together outstanding businesses and leadership teams in key disciplines into a collective harnessing creativity as a force for positive impact in society and the economy. In the last few years, a number of ‘collectives’ have been announced as counter-points to the networks but Kyu was way ahead of them and remains the only collective with a positive unifying purpose rather than simply being an antidote to the status quo. Lexington is the ideal addition to bring PR and communications skills.
“To date PR and public affairs has not been part of the Kyu offer, but it’s a compelling wrapper that unifies the collective. Lexington already has a notable presence in the UK, but both its leadership and Kyu’s are highly ambitious so we should expect to see it further accelerating the growth of its disciplines and geographies under Kyu’s auspices. It will likely do this both organically and through M&A.”
Lexington has grown from its public affairs and government relations roots to also work with clients on corporate reputation, crisis management, ESG and digital. It now has offices in London, Manchester, Leeds and Cambridge, and clients include the Football Association, International Airlines Group, Mars and Warner Music along with Sanofi, Merck/MSD, Roche Diagnostics and Pfizer in its healthcare practice.