MILAN — Italian public affairs firm SEC has agreed to merge with Porta – which it took a 19.3% stake in two years ago – in a deal to create a global communications business.

Under the terms of the deal Porta, which owns Newgate (merged with Redleaf last year), Publicasity and Australia’s Engage Comms, is valued at around £4.5m.

The deal, due to be completed by the end of September, is classed as a reverse takeover for SEC under AIM rules and is subject to approval by SEC shareholders.

SEC marks its 30th anniversary this year but began its international expansion in 2013. It now operates in eight countries, having acquired firms including public affairs heavyweights Cambre in Brussels and Newington in London; Cambre chairman Tom Parker is chief strategy and sales officer, and an executive director, as is Newington CEO Mark Glover. SEC grew 20% last year to $39m in fee income.

The merger is set to create a business with global fee income of around €75-€80m, with offices in the UK, Europe, the Middle East, APAC and South America, and a workforce of more than 550.

Porta chairman John Foley said: "The bringing together of these two organisations will create a strategic communications group of scale that has global reach but, importantly, key local market expertise.

“The combined group will create a top 30 global firm that can offer what we believe our clients are increasingly seeking – c-suite strategic communications advice through a genuine integrated offering across research and insights, financial and corporate communications, public affairs, stakeholder engagement, public relations and digital communications."

SEC chief executive Fiorenzo Tagliabue (pictured) said: "The merger of Porta and SEC will benefit both SEC and its existing global development plan, growing the business and expanding commercial reach and knowledge. The Porta business complements the existing SEC footprint and reach.

"I believe this combination has a solid basis derived from nearly two and a half years of commercial partnership between SEC and Porta with the potential for further synergies. The combined group will be better equipped to compete globally, with an expanded commercial and technological product base to deliver added value strategic advice to our clients."