MILAN — SEC Newgate – the communications group formed by the merger of Italian public affairs firm SEC and Porta in September – has set out its three-year strategic plan, revealing its aim of acquiring firms across the US and strengthening its Asia-Pacific presence.

The plan sets out a number of priorities for the group for 2020-2022, including returning to profitability and the further integration of the two organisations. The firms within the holding company include public affairs heavyweights Cambre in Brussels and Newington in London, as well as former Porta agencies Newgate, Publicasity and Australia’s Engage Communications.

The group – which currently has 31 offices in 15 countries, with nearly 600 staff – will also continue its acquisition strategy, with a particular focus on the US.

SEC Newgate CEO Fiorenzo Tagliabue (pictured) told the Holmes Report: “We have an ambitious plan related to the US market for the next three years. We need a strong presence in the market in order to balance our geographical footprint – at the moment we are strong in Europe, the Far East and Australia. We are working with partner agencies in the United States and doing a lot of work over there, but we need a direct presence.”

He said Washington DC was the natural starting point for the US plan, but the group would be looking at “covering the main strategic areas across politics, finance, industry and technology.”

SEC Newgate will also increase its presence in the APAC region, where it currently has Newgate offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney, with “the expansion of operations in Greater China and the inclusion of two other key markets in the region.”

Tagliabue added that the group is also planning expansion in Latin America, where it already has a SEC LatAm office in Bogota: “We’re targeting another two countries and should complete in the first part of next year.”

Additionally, the group has recently opened a new office in Morocco, Cambre Maroc, as its first step to “achieving a strong presence” in Africa. SEC Newgate has hired Driss Benhima, a former chairman and CEO of Royal Air Maroc and an ex-government minister, as managing director.

The group is also working on a new positioning for its research, innovation and digital transformation offer, including a new AI-based sentiment and opinion tracking platform, called True, that will operate in five European languages. True is currently being tested with clients and will launch in January.

SEC Newgate is also planning to create a network of “digital transformation experts, multichannel storytellers and creative thinkers to help our clients to govern the challenges of rapidly evolving change in business, technology and consumer behaviour.”

Tagliabue said: “Immediately after the merger, we started working on this plan that should be our compass for the next three years. It will help us to integrate the two groups in order to build a group with one vision, one culture, and one purpose. Our ambition is to become a worldwide player, specifically as a PR group with a strong digital capability.”