Politico: Mark Penn’s private equity group to buy PR firm SKDK

politico

SKDKnickerbocker, the Washington PR firm with deep ties to Democrats, is being bought by Mark Penn’s investment firm.

Penn, a former pollster and political strategist, worked on Bill Clinton’s 1996 campaign with Bill Knapp, a managing director at SKDK. Penn left Microsoft earlier this year to start a Stagwell Group, a private-equity firm focused on digital marketing with backing from Steve Ballmer, the former Microsoft CEO.

SKDK, which also has offices in New York, Albany and Los Angeles, has worked on political and corporate campaigns from Washington State’s ballot initiative on gun background checks to the U.S. Airways merger. Anita Dunn, another managing director, was White House communications director and senior adviser to President Obama’s presidential campaigns. Her husband, Robert Bauer, was Obama’s White House counsel.

“Stagwell is putting together a really exciting group of best-in-class companies and we think this is a huge opportunity to work together with sister firms in the future,” SKDK Managing Director Josh Isay said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to continue to operate our company the way it’s been operated and at the same time broaden our horizons.”

Read the full article at Politico

The New York Times: Mark Penn’s Stagwell Group Will Acquire SKDKnickerbocker

nytimes

The private equity firm founded with a quarter-billion dollar check from the former Microsoft chief Steven A. Ballmer has made its first purchase.

The firm, the Stagwell Group, which is being run by the former advertising executive Mark Penn, will acquire SKDKnickerbocker, the public relations group best known for its advertising and campaign work for prominent Democratic clients.

It is the first step in what Mr. Penn said would be an attempt to create a cohesive group of advertising, research, public relations and marketing companies.

“The goal is to build a great group of companies that have a strong understanding of the digital world,” Mr. Penn said in an interview. “It’s a bit of a Noah’s ark, but we’ll have one of each kind.”

Mr. Penn said he also expected to acquire firms that specialize in digital design, Hollywood ventures, ad buying and financial communications.

Announced in June, Stagwell has $250 million in assets — most of it contributed by Mr. Ballmer, and some by Mr. Penn — and said it would use debt to strike deals worth as much as $750 million.

Read the full article at The New York Times

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