WASHINGTON, DC — Six independent strategy, analytics, research and intelligence specialists have merged to form Penta, a 200-strong global ‘stakeholder solutions’ firm backed with private equity funding.

Ballast Research, Hamilton Place Strategies, Flag Media Analytics, Alva and Gotham Research Group – which have been working together for the past year – along with newly-acquired Decode_M, have rebranded and launched as Penta, backed by a majority investment by Falfurrias Capital Partners.

Penta will be led by president Matt McDonald, previously a partner at Hamilton Place Strategies for over a decade. He said: “Leaders know the challenges they face in the increasingly complex stakeholder environment. It is time to meet the moment with a purpose-built firm that offers comprehensive and actionable intelligence to inform stakeholder strategy and engagement.”

Senior partner Alberto Lopez-Valenzuela, previously CEO of Alva, added: “There is a growing recognition among the C-Suite of the significant impact that stakeholders have on the business and its ability to create value. With this recognition comes a need for an integrated and connected approach to stakeholder solutions. By combining the most advanced intelligence tools with premium advisory capabilities, Penta will work with clients to help understand, predict and mitigate the impact of stakeholder issues, as well as enabling understanding between business leaders and their stakeholders.”

As the newest addition to Penta, Decode_M brings research methodologies and advanced analytics capabilities. Its proprietary MFactor tool claims to be the first to measure the cultural momentum of brands, products, people, and movements.

Penta works with more than 200 clients across its teams in New York, London, Washington DC and San Francisco, and plans to make further acquisitions to expand its global reach. The integration of all the founding firms will be complete by the end of this year, after the conclusion of Ballast Research’s current research cycle.

The newly-merged firm has already made a number of new senior appointments, including Scott Elder as a managing director of intelligence, having previously worked at market research and advisory firms Global Strategy Group, PSB Insight and BCW Global. In addition, Marisol Garibay, most recently chief communications officer at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, joins Penta as a managing director of strategy, and former American Federation of Teachers communications director Kris Havens also comes to Penta as a managing director of intelligence.