John Harrington
Apr 13, 2023

WPP confirms FGS Global private equity deal

WPP has confirmed that private equity firm KKR has made an investment in FGS Global in a deal that values the consultancy at $1.425 billion.

WPP confirms FGS Global private equity deal

Under the deal, which was first reported by the Financial Times last week, WPP remains the majority shareholder in FGS, with employees of the agency staying as substantial shareholders. KKR’s stake is about 30 per cent.

As PRWeek reported on Friday, Golden Gate Capital, the private investment firm that has been a shareholder in FGS Global since 2016, is exiting its investment through the sale of its stake to KKR.

In a statement, WPP said the transaction is expected to close before the end of the third quarter of 2023, “subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions”.

An analyst note from Citigroup, published last week after news emerged of the imminent deal, said a valuation of about $1.4bn would mean FSG Global "may be worth more than the entire current value of [WPP’s] PR division based on current multiples”.

Today’s statement from WPP said: “The strategic partnership with KKR – one of the world’s leading investment firms – will help to drive the continued growth of FGS Global, the innovation of its service offering and the expansion of its international footprint in the resilient and growing strategic advisory sector.”

Mark Read, chief executive of WPP, said: “FGS Global has established itself as a global leader in strategic advisory and communications, providing board-level counsel to the world’s leading companies and organisations. We are delighted to welcome KKR as a new strategic partner in FGS Global, in a transaction that recognises the tremendous value of the business and its potential for continued strong growth.”

Philipp Freise, partner at KKR, said: “WPP and FGS Global have built an exceptional communications advisory firm. Stakeholder engagement is a boardroom issue and we are today establishing a powerful strategic partnership between WPP and KKR to support FGS Global as they continue on their path to building an industry-defining global business.”

Alex Geiser, global chief executive of FGS Global, said: “We are thrilled to be joined by KKR as a strategic partner on our journey to create the world leader in strategic advisory and communications. Our mission to help leaders lead in an increasingly complex stakeholder environment is timelier than ever. The fact that a global investor with the great sophistication and experience of KKR has joined WPP in seeing what we see in our people, the work we do for clients and our future is immensely motivating. We are grateful our clients and our employees will be the beneficiaries.”

FGS Global has a workforce of 1,300 people across 27 cities globally. It was recently ranked the number-one global PR firm for deal count and value by Mergermarket, having advised on 322 deals with a total value of over $657bn in 2022.

FGS Global formed in its current guise in December 2021, after the merger of Finsbury Glover Hering (FGH) and Sard Verbinnen. It rebranded last June.

FGH itself launched as a combined entity at the start of 2021 after the merger of WPP stablemates Finsbury, The Glover Park Group and Hering Schuppener.

The KKR deal is likely to push back a planned IPO for FGS until at least three years from now – the initial plan was to float on the stock market by 2024 at the latest.


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