City PR men make millions in takeover

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The Independent Online

Financial Dynamics, one of the City's leading PR agencies, has been bought by an American business services company for £110m, making millionaires of its management and many of its staff.

It is the biggest deal of its kind, eclipsing the £55m acquisition of the rival Finsbury by the advertising giant WPP in 2001. Workers at FD will collect £63m from the transaction, mostly in cash, after the agency agreed to sell out to FTI Consulting, which is paying £110m for the equity, as well as taking on £27m of debt. Management and employees will also be rewarded with an $80m (£43m) bonus pool going forward.

FD was bought by management in 2003 for £26m including the debt from the troubled Cordiant media group, with backing from the private equity group Advent International, which will now exit the investment. The agreement is worth £6.6m to FD's chief executive, Charles Watson, while the head of its US operations, Declan Kelly, will get £5.5m. However, unlike Finsbury or the market leader Brunswick, share ownership at FD is spread much more evenly - across 160 employees.

According to figures in the company's latest official filings, the shares held by many employees are worth about £1m. Tim Spratt will get £1.4m from the FTI transaction, while Giles Sanderson gets £1.1m and Alexander Child-Villiners makes £1m. A number of senior employees own 27,984 shares which will net them £839,520 each.

Mr Watson said: "We've worked very hard over the last three years. The business has been transformed."

Since the buyout, turnover has jumped 120 per cent and is expected to be £70m this year. Its clients have tripled to 750, while the number of employees has increased from 180 to 450.

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