MILAN — Italian advocacy and communications agency SEC has acquired a majority shareholding in French consultancy Clai.

Paris-based corporate advocacy agency Clai was founded in 2009 by Eric Giuily, the former global head of Publicis Consultants, and now has more than 25 employees. Its clients have included Ricoh, KFC, Lilly, Mastercard and PayPal.

The terms of the deal are an initial 10% stake for just over €400,000, then a cash payment of €85,000, with the remainder to be acquired after a two-step earn-out. SEC will have 50.01% of the voting rights from day one, however.

Giuily and fellow director Elisabeth Coutureau will retain their leadership roles and will join the SEC Group management committee, chaired by Tom Parker, chairman of Cambre Associates, the Brussels-based agency focused on European advocacy and communications.

SEC now operates in London, Berlin, Madrid, Milan, Brussels, Warsaw and Paris, and also plans to continue its expansion in North and South America, the Middle East and Asia. It took a 19.3% stake in Porta last year and is the majority stakeholder of Newington Communications.

SEC president Fiorenzo Tagliabue (pictured) said: “The agreement marks an important step in the development of our network. Our growth is based on the integration within our network of independent agencies, managed by their founders in order to best meet the specificities of each market and to keep the entrepreneurial spirit that is key to success in our business.”

Giuily added: “On the eve of our tenth anniversary, the agreement with SEC will enable us to gain access to an international network, whose expansion over the past five years has been remarkable and promising, in order to boost our development and expand the service base to our clients. This is a crucial step for our firm that will provide us long-term sustainability and reach.”