Maja Pawinska Sims 23 Nov 2021 // 5:18PM GMT
MADRID — Brand building and reputation management firm Marco has acquired a 51% stake in Africa Communications Media Group (ACG) as it broadens its geographic reach across the African continent.
ACG is headquartered in Johannesburg (South Africa), with offices in Abidjan (Ivory Coast) and Nairobi (Kenya) as well as long-standing partners in Kigali (Rwanda), Harare (Zimbabwe) and Lagos (Nigeria) and additional affiliated offices in more than 40 other countries across the African continent, working with clients including Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mercedes Benz, Bloomberg and Ethiopian Airlines. ACG will now be known as Marco Africa – ACG.
The agency is spearheaded by founder and CEO Mimi Kalinda (pictured, left(, who is from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, having being raised in South Africa, London and Brussels. Kalinda will lead communications operations for Marco group clients in the sub-Saharan market.
Madrid-headquartered MSL affiliate Marco already has a presence in Africa, having opened its first office in Casablanca eight years ago, which leads work for businesses and organisations such as Invest in Morocco, Bombardier, Intelcia and the European Investment Bank (EIB).
Marco founder and CEO Didier Lagae (pictured, right) said: “I have had the immense pleasure of working alongside Mimi Kalinda, and the rest of her team, in a variety of campaigns especially for institutional clients related to the European Union. Since we handled all the international communications and outreach for the COP22 held in Marrakesh, Morocco in 2016, Marco has been the go-to communication support agency for key institutions and corporations operating on the African continent.
“We feel passionate about the opportunities for growth in key markets in Africa and we believe strongly in the African continent as a whole. We anticipated that the moment was right to expand the current leadership expertise to sub-Saharan Africa. The acquisition of ACG with their direct presence in three key markets plus an indirect presence in another 40 delivers the expansion that we were looking for. International and locally based clients now have a clear partner for Africa.”
Kalinda will work directly with Lagae on country branding. She said: "We are now in a position to implement communication support to both sub-Saharan Africa and the Maghreb region. Africa Communications Group (ACG), being part of the Marco family, translates into real opportunities for our clients to not only build their reputations and brands in Africa but also well beyond the continent’s frontiers.
"Developing a presence and a reputation in Europe, most notably in Brussels, Paris and London, as well as in Washington D.C. and New York, are now available and accessible to our clients. I am also very pleased to combine my personal expertise in powerful country brand building with Didier’s unmatched experience and knowledge.”
Kalinda’s second in command at ACG is COO Linda Weaver, who focuses on reputation management, strategic and crisis communications and has delivered award-winning campaigns for African shopping centre Sandton City and truck producer Isuzu, the most important producer of trucks in Africa. Weaver, who previously headed the African operation for Weber Shandwick has also provided strategic counsel to pan African clients such as Unilever and she led the country brand work for Brand South Africa. Weaver will report to Samira Sitail, who joined Marco last year to head its operations in the Maghreb region.
The move comes at a time when economies across Africa are growing, with Botswana seeing growth of 8.7% in 2021, followed by Côte d’Ivoire, Rwanda and the Gambia, whose GDP has grown by over 6% and Kenya at 4.7%, higher than projected figures for EU growth of 4.5% in 2022.
In its statement announcing the acquisition, Marco said a new office in London was next on its list and it already had a team of six in place.A spokesperson told PRovoke Media: "We are in the process of pulling together the senior team and plan to have the operation up and running before summer next year. We recognise the importance of London as the centre of the financial and PR world.
"In such a competitive market like London, brand and reputation building is now all the more crucial to differentiate and accelerate the communication needs of clients. It is a logical next step to enter the British market. Now that the ACG acquisition is in full swing our strengths lie in the fact that we can promote British companies looking to enter or expand in the African continent and provide award-winning and world-beating communications solutions."
The firm already has a team of more than 200 across its owned offices in Madrid, Barcelona, Lisbon, París, Brussels, Milan, Berlin, Miami, México City, Bogotá, Lima, São Paulo, Casablanca, Johannesburg, Abidjan and Nairobi, as well as affiliated MSL offices in more than 100 markets.