WRG looks east to expand with Hong Kong deal

THE COMPANY that staged the Olympic torch relay and the Pope’s visit to Britain has moved into China with the acquisition of Hong Kong-based Serious Events.

WRG Creative Communications, which employs around 140 people, announced the deal yesterday.

Serious Events, which was founded in 1996, has a number of high-profile clients, including the fashion designer Chanel and drinks giant Diageo, as well as corporate clients such as Goldman Sachs.

The company said buying Serious Events would “strengthen the ability of WRG to support and service its international clients on a global basis.” It did not disclose how much it had paid, although one person close to the company put the figure in the single-digit millions.

Buying Serious Events will give the Manchester-based outfit, which also organised 2009’s G20 summit in London, an office in Hong Kong to add to its bases in London, Manchester, Abu Dhabi, Doha and New York.

Barry Day, WRG’s chief executive, said: “The acquisition of Serious Events is a further demonstration of our commitment to becoming the leading partner to global brands in the field of live communication.”

It is WRG’s second acquisition in four months after it bought out Manchester communications agency Canyon in July.

The firm, which has ex-BBC chairman Michael Grade as a non-executive director, saw turnover of £31.5m last year and a £2.6m profit last year, according to accounts filed with Companies House.

It has recently been boosted by an investment from mid-market private equity firm LDC, allowing it to pursue an “international buy and build strategy”.

David Rule, who founded Serious Events and will continue at the business, said: “With the strength of WRG behind us, we will be able to accelerate our growth into China and the wider Asian market.”