Maja Pawinska Sims 08 Sep 2020 // 12:04PM GMT
LONDON — Global strategic communications consultancy Sard Verbinnen & Co (SVC) has acquired UK communications and public affairs firm Oakhill Communications for an undisclosed sum, to add to its capabilities in Europe.
Led by founders Craig Leviton and Lee Petar, the Oakhill team of seven will be based in Sard Verbinnen’s existing London office as managing directors and co-heads of the public affairs practice. The acquisition brings SVC’s total headcount in London to 25. There have been no redundancies or other leadership changes at the combined firm.
Headquartered in New York, SVC has offices in Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, London and Hong Kong, SVC firm has more than 200 employees. Oakhill provides public affairs and crisis communications advice to FTSE 100 companies, high-net-worth individuals, UK non-profits and trade groups.
SVC’s chairman of public affairs Bruce Haynes said: “Craig and Lee have built a highly-respected business with a great client base. They are known for their strategic thinking, government and regulatory expertise, and diligence in client service. Many of our US and Asia based clients are seeking our counsel for their operations in the UK, and likewise we have been advising UK and European based clients on their interests here. Oakhill increases our ability to provide seamless counsel and execution support to them all.”
Leviton (pictured, left) first worked in the UK Parliament as an adviser between 1993 and 1996, before joining public affairs consultancy LLM Communications and rising to MD, where he oversaw the firm’s sale to Financial Dynamics and became MD of the public affairs practice. In 2007 Leviton was appointed director of corporate affairs at the Gala Coral Group.
At the end of 2009, Leviton set up Heathcroft Communications, which he sold to Teneo in 2013 before setting up Oakhill Communications with Petar in 2015. He said, “SVC is one of the most respected and trusted communications consultancies in the world and will provide broader capabilities for our clients and the next phase of growth for our team. Their global public affairs team is well placed to advise clients that need to navigate the US, UK and Asian markets and wider geo-political trends.”
Petar (pictured, right) started his career at LSA, before working at BSMG, Weber Shandwick and Good Relations. He co-founded Tetra Strategy in 2007 and led its growth over the next eight years before splitting from co-founder James O’Keefe and later setting up Oakhill.
He added: “Becoming part of SVC provides a first-class platform to create a leading UK public affairs business. That, coupled with SVC’s market leading expertise in providing trusted, senior level corporate counsel, will lead to growth opportunities for our team as well as for our clients. We are excited about what the future will bring.”