The Middle East seems to be the next stop for the British public relations company Four Communications. The agency looks to acquire a similar company in Dubai, thus consolidating its position on the market, and making its first acquisition in the region. Four Communications has offices in the United Arab Emirates and Oman, and already discussed takeovers with smaller rivals in Dubai prior to this desired purchase.
“Over the last six months we’ve talked to five different operators headquartered here in Dubai. We’re continuing discussions with one,” declared Chris O’Donoghue, the chairman of Four Communications.
The name of this agency they have bought hasn’t been revealed yet. An important aspect is that the company won’t buy the firm by creating debt. “All these acquisitions are from our own cash flow – we’re free of debt,” said Ray Eglington, managing director for international at Four.
Experts from this part of the world say that mergers and acquisitions aren’t something very common in the local public relation industry. Mazen Nahawi, the president of the Dubai media firm News Group International, said that the PR industry in the Middle East, Egypt and Levant is on a growing trend. “It’s growing, but at a relatively slow pace – at 5 to 10 per cent a year,” he pointed out.
Four Communications has a strong position in the market and a turnover of £20 million in 2011.
“Here [our revenues are] up about 15 per cent in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. And we expect that to accelerate next year,” stated Chris O’Donoghue. “We’re continuing to expand in the Gulf. We opened an office in Oman this year, and in the first quarter of 2013 we’ll open an office in Qatar.”
It is always important to be among the first major players in an emerging market, and since the Middle East is a steadily growing one, Four Communications’ move could turn out to be quite a smart and profitable business move in the future. There are a number of multi-nationals active in Dubai, including Hill & Knowlton, Fleishman-Hillard and Burson Marsteller.