NEW YORK & LONDON – KKR today announced an agreement to make a growth investment in leading strategic advisory and communications firm, FGS Global (the “Company”). Under the terms of the agreement, WPP plc (“WPP”) will remain the Company’s majority owner and FGS employees will remain substantial shareholders. FGS also plans to expand its employee ownership to include nearly half of its staff worldwide. Golden Gate Capital, an FGS shareholder since 2016, will exit its investment through the sale of its interest to KKR.
FGS is a leader in all aspects of strategic advisory and communications, including corporate reputation, crisis management, government affairs and is a leading advisor on business-critical financial communications worldwide. FGS’s always-on global platform delivers trusted advice, data-driven insights and hands-on execution for clients navigating their defining moments. The Company’s 1,300 experts across 27 global offices oversee an integrated suite of reputation-shaping capabilities, with deep local relationships and extensive knowledge across industries and geographies. FGS empowers its over 1,600 clients to effectively engage with their key stakeholders and supports them in navigating important issues ranging from sustainability to litigation, regulatory developments and cybersecurity.
Philipp Freise, Partner and Co-Head of European Private Equity at KKR, stated: “Our investment in FGS is the latest example of our focus on proprietary, strategic partnership investments where we are providing long-term capital and a global network of resources to an entrepreneurial management team and alongside a world-class business. We firmly believe that Alex Geiser, Carter Eskew, Roland Rudd, George Sard and their talented global team are pioneering the next generation of value-add strategic communications services. Stakeholder engagement is a boardroom issue and we are confident that FGS, with whom we have enjoyed a long-term relationship, is well positioned to capitalize on significant growth opportunities ahead as a global category leader in the growing management consulting service industry.”
Alexander Geiser, Global CEO of FGS, added, “We are thrilled to have found a partner in KKR, who shares our vision of creating a global integrated communications consultancy and will help us to accelerate the evolution of our industry. Companies are operating in increasingly complex stakeholder ecosystems and FGS was created to build a new kind of consultancy to help leaders face this challenge. KKR’s exceptional investment track record, extensive experience and global resources will be invaluable as we seek to grow our integrated solutions globally. We are committed to creating value for all of our shareholders. This includes many of our colleagues who will be able to participate in our long-term success through a new expanded ownership program that we will create, which we believe is without precedent in our industry.”
Mark Read, CEO of WPP, said: “FGS has established itself as a global leader in strategic advisory and communications, providing board-level counsel to the world’s leading companies and organizations. We are delighted to welcome KKR as a new strategic partner in FGS, in a transaction that recognizes the tremendous value of the business and its potential for continued strong growth.”
FGS was recently ranked the #1 Global PR firm for Deal Count and Value in 2022 by Mergermarket. It is also consistently ranked a Band 1 PR firm for Crisis & Risk Management and for Litigation Support by Chambers and Partners. FGS was created through a combination of leading strategic communications and public affairs firms: Finsbury, The Glover Park Group, Hering Schuppener, and Sard Verbinnen & Co.
KKR is making the investment in FGS primarily through its European Fund VI, an $8 billion fund that invests in the growth of leading businesses by providing access to KKR’s extensive network and business building resources. One of the core strategies of KKR’s European Private Equity team is investing alongside founders, entrepreneurs and corporates to provide flexible capital for strategic partnership transactions. The FGS investment follows a similar thematic pursued when KKR invested in ERM, the world’s largest global pure play sustainability consultancy, in 2021.
The transaction is expected to close before the end of the third quarter of 2023, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.