LONDON — Next Fifteen Communications Group PLC is to acquire the US operations of healthcare communications firm Health Unlimited in a deal worth $27.7 million.

Health Unlimited provides communication services to companies involved in solving global health issues, including Gilead Sciences, Global Blood Therapeutics, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, International AIDS Society and the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Following the acquisition, Health Unlimited will trade as M Booth Health, operating as a separate agency, reporting to Dale Bornstein, M Booth CEO. Timothy Bird, Global CEO of Health Unlimited and his US-based management team will remain with the business.

The marketing group will pay $21 million in cash, with the balance in 979,970 new company shares. It may also pay additional funds, depending on earnings, with the total to be a maximum of $45 million. For the year ended 31 March 2019, Health Unlimited reported net revenues of $17.4 million.

Next Fifteen chief executive Tim Dyson said: “This acquisition is a major milestone for Next 15 as it adds another specialist business to the portfolio and greatly expands our international footprint in the healthcare sector. We see significant complementary opportunities for both businesses.”

Health Unlimited was formed five years ago as a collective of legacy healthcare agencies in the US and the UK, including CooneyWaters, Red Door Unlimited, and the Corkery Group. The agency services all of its clients from its New York office, but plans to collaborate with M Booth's San Francisco office following the deal.

Bornstein said the agencies will operate as a "seamless enterprise" with the ability to tap into expertise across M Booth and M Booth Health. Prior to the acquisition, M Booth had built a portfolio of food and wellness brands, including working with health influencers. 

"There are some adjacencies and we see that as a real opportunity," Bornstein said.

She said both agencies have a "people-first culture" with long-standing clients. "Healthcare is evolving fast and clients are seeking the same innovation that consumer brands have, so there's a complementary syngery." 

Bird told the Holmes Report that Health Unlimited would be able to tap into M Booth's expertise in data and analytics, consumer activations and social listening, among others.

"Our clients are in healthcare but are interested to know how others sectors are addressing these areas and that’s where we see a lot of intersection," he added.

In a separate announcement, Next Fifteen reported a pre-tax profit for the six months ended 31 July of £17.2 million, 14% higher than the previous year. Organic revenue fell 1.3%, which the group said was partly down to the restructuring of Archetype, formed after the merger of Text100 and Bite, and partly down to the loss of Samsung and Just Eat as clients at design agency Beyond.

Additional reporting by Aarti Shah.