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Huntsworth buys Dorland Global

UK-based public relations group, Huntsworth, has acquired Dorland Global Corporation in a move to extend the US reach of its Huntsworth Health division

UK-based public relations group, Huntsworth, has acquired Dorland Global Corporation in a move to extend the US reach of its Huntsworth Health division.

Huntsworth paid approximately USD 20.7m (EUR 15.7m) in cash in initial consideration for Philadelphia-based Dorland, under a deal that sets the maximum total consideration at USD 50m (EUR 37.9m).

The healthcare-focused firm was purchased from Harry and Rita Sweeney, who will continue to serve in their current positions as chairman/CEO and president/COO, respectively. The rest of Dorland's management will also remain in place, with the team reporting to David Rowley, CEO of Huntsworth Health.

From Dorland's perspective, the deal was a chance to expand the agency's global footprint, according to Nancy Bacher Long, president of Dorland Global Public Relations.

Dorland already had global reach through Public Relations Organisation International, the international partnership of independent PR and marketing firms, but while the agency's experience with PROI was extremely positive, "for whatever reason, clients could not necessarily accept the concept of an independent network so for us, the number-one priority was to have a true global footprint with wholly owned offices under the same corporation around the world," Long told PMLive in an interview.

Dorland's management also felt that the deal with Huntsworth would allow the agency to make the most of being part of a large company without being swallowed up. "We are the sole US footprint for the health offering (at Huntsworth) and the acquisition of Dorland has more than doubled the size of Huntsworth's health business, so we've got a true seat at the table," Long said.

Dorland and Huntsworth Health are essentially mirror images of each other in structure, with each focusing on three main areas: advertising, public relations and medical education. That alignment will help provide synergies, but Dorland also plans to make use of other service offerings "that either we weren't offering or that we had to some degree but not as robustly as we would like," Long said. The areas that are of particular interest to the US agency are Huntsworth's public affairs and investor relations offerings, as well as Huntsworth Health's Broad Street events management and digital marketing company.

It will take some time before all of the effects of the acquisition are clear, but Dorland is already making use of new resources and partnerships, Long noted. "Literally, the deal was signed midday on Thursday, and by before close of business I had the first RFP I'm working on with one of my new colleagues," she said.

Dorland had pre-tax profits of approximately USD 3.5m for FY06 and gross assets of around USD 11m (EUR 8.3m). In addition to its offices in Philadelphia and San Francisco, it recently hired healthcare veteran Michael Beckerich to help establish a strong presence in New York City.

Huntsworth operates 60 principal offices in 30 countries, with a focus on the consumer, financial, public affairs, integrated healthcare and technology sectors.

14th March 2007

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