LONDON — Omnicom is merging two of its public affairs firms, Portland and Gplus, to bolster Portland’s international footprint.

At the same time, Portland founder Tim Allan will be leaving the firm at the end of this year to pursue other interests, and managing director Mark Flanagan (pictured) will step up to become the new CEO in January. Flanagan, a former head of strategic communications at 10 Downing Street, joined Portland in 2010.

The merger represents a substantial European expansion for Portland, which has 250 staff with offices in London, Washington DC, Doha, Nairobi and Singapore. Founded in 2000 in Brussels, political communications and regulatory risk consultancy Gplus now has more than 50 staff across its offices in Brussels, Paris, Berlin and London.

A Portland spokesperson told the Holmes Report: “Portland and GPlus have a long history of working together and obvious strong synergies. There have been several attempts to build a close strategic partnership over the years, but it proved difficult to align them while the firms had two different sets of shareholders.

“From 1 Jan 2020 both firms will have a single shareholder (Omnicom) and so they will be moving towards full integration of their operations. Portland, being the larger firm, will be the lead partner. It’s a very amicable merger, which is viewed with enthusiasm by the GPlus leadership, and which will benefit staff in both agencies.”

Portland is currently in discussion with the GPlus leadership team – including managing partners Daniel Brinkwerth and Thomas Barros-Tastets – over roles and responsibilities in the new structure, but the company said there would be no job losses as a result of the management changes.

On his departure, Allan said: “It has been quite a journey since launching Portland in a tiny room, with one client and a couple of staff in 2001. I am hugely proud of the growth we have achieved, the high quality and innovative services we have provided our clients over the years, and the exciting careers we have been able to offer to the loyal and hugely talented staff.

“I thank each and every one of them, past and present, for what we have achieved together, and I thank the clients for the trust they have placed in us. I leave the company in great shape. It is doing fantastic work, is growing strongly and we have developed some of the best talents in the industry.”

Omnicom Public Relations Group CEO Karen Van Bergen said she was “very grateful to Tim for his vision and leadership that has led Portland to become a top strategic communications firm.”

Of Flanagan’s promotion, she said: “Since joining Portland he has consistently delivered strong growth for Portland and I am thrilled to have him lead this new chapter. Paired with the high calibre cross-European public affairs and reputation expertise of GPLUS, we will bring broader scale, reach and capabilities to clients, while also expanding opportunities for talent.”

Flanagan added: “Tim’s are big shoes to fill and I feel privileged to be asked to lead this amazing agency through the next chapter. The combination of GPlus and Portland will significantly increase our international footprint and is an important statement of our joint ambition. We are proud of our past but focused on the future, with an aspiration to build one of the leading strategic communications consultancies in the world.”