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SI Partners advises the international integrated marketing communications group Karmarama on Investment by Phoenix Equity Partners


Marketing Communications


Sell Side


June 2011



Investment in Karmarama by Phoenix Equity Partners marks first move in creation of new international integrated marketing communications group.

London 2nd June 2011: Plans have been announced today to create a major new force within the international marketing communications sector following the completion of a strategic investment in Karmarama, one of the UK’s fastest growing independent advertising agencies, by Phoenix Equity Partners (Phoenix), the London-based mid-market private equity investor.  This is the third investment by Phoenix’s £450 million 2010 Fund, which was raised in May 2010.

Commenting on today’s news, Sandy Muirhead, Managing Partner of Phoenix, said: "We are delighted to be backing this ambitious plan to create an innovative new force in the marketing communications sector. The combination of the exceptionally talented Karmarama team with Charles Watson’s proven record in building successful “people” businesses and Adam Silver’s transactional expertise creates a five star team around which to build the new challenger brand in this market. We are hugely looking forward to working with them all and are fully committed to deploying further significant amounts of investment capital to help achieve their goals".

In addition to Karmarama, the investment also encompasses its associate companies, Kream and Kaper and will accelerate the group’s plans to create an international integrated marketing communications business. As such, this move represents the first of a number of planned investments, further acquisitions and recruitment initiatives. Over  the next two to three years these will bring together some of the most talented industry practitioners and successful and innovative independent agencies from across the marketing communications sector – both in the UK and in key international markets – to build a highly integrated and future-facing agency model which combines the best creative, technology and data expertise.

"Today’s announcement secures our independent future and opens up a multitude of new opportunities for both our clients and our people. This investment will help us lead the market in the fusion of creativity, technology and data, and we’re looking forward to partnering with other like-minded entrepreneurs to help achieve this. By putting the principles of collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurial thinking at its heart, we are confident that this progressive venture will be market- defining. We believe that our partnership with Phoenix, Charles and Adam provides the perfect formula for taking the business forward".
Ben Bilboul, CEO, Karmarama.

On completion of the transaction, the business will be jointly owned by all the Karmarama, Kream and Kaper partners, including Karmarama’s four principals: Ben Bilboul (CEO), Nicola Mendelsohn  (Karmarama’s executive chairman), Dave Buonaguidi (Chief Creative Officer) and Sid McGrath (Chief Strategic Officer), and Phoenix.

They will be joined by Adam Silver, who has been appointed corporate development director with responsibility for overseeing the continuing acquisition and investment programme, and Charles Watson, who has been appointed chairman of the group. Charles Watson was until the beginning of this year group CEO of Financial Dynamics, one of the world’s leading financial and corporate public relations consultancies. In 2003, he led FD’s management buy-out and subsequent sale in 2006 to FTI Consulting. During this period he built the business, organically and through a series of acquisitions, into one of the most successful private equity-financed investments in the PR & marketing communications sector.

"It is enormously exciting now to be working in partnership with what is without doubt one of the most successful teams in the marketing communications sector.  An outstanding growth record combined with a truly innovative and collaborative culture has already proved Karmarama to be one the most progressive and creative agencies in the UK. This is the perfect starting point for building something quite exceptional in the industry and we look forward eagerly to engaging with other like-minded talent as we plan our next moves".
Charles Watson

During the transaction, Karmarama was advised by S.I.Partners

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We can’t recommend SI Partners highly enough. They helped us through a complex process with multiple stakeholders, with a huge degree of insight, energy and smart advice. SI Partners added value to the process but importantly, they made it a lot of fun too.

Ben Bilboul, CEO, Karmarama