Feb 15, 2024 - Business

Private equity strikes again: Narrative Strategies sells stake

Photo of Narrative’s founding partners Patrick O’Connor, Ed Mullen, Ken Spain, and Katie Mitchell,

Narrative's founding partners Patrick O'Connor, Ken Spain Katie Mitchell and Ed Mullen. Photo courtesy of Narrative Strategies.

D.C.-based public affairs firm Narrative Strategies has sold a majority stake to New York private equity firm Clarion Capital Partners, Axios first learned.

Why it matters: The investment is the latest example of a private equity firm taking a stake in a public affairs company as corporations brace for more scrutiny — and potentially regulation — out of Washington.

Zoom in: The deal will allow the firm to expand its business and open new offices across the country.

  • Narrative was founded in 2019 by former Wall Street Journal reporter Patrick O'Connor and political operatives Ken Spain, Ed Mullen and Katie Mitchell.
  • The bipartisan firm has 65 employees who support clients across the Fortune 500, trade associations, nonprofits and law firms.
  • Rosemarie Calabro Tully and Andrew Fimka were named partners last year.

What they're saying: "Narrative's best-in-class team and exceptional growth trajectory — especially in the financial services, health care and life sciences sectors — attracted us to the business," said David Ragins, a managing director at Clarion.

The big picture: PE firms, as well New York and London PR behemoths, have been on a shopping spree for public affairs agencies that understand — and influence — the political world.

  • KKR acquired a 30% stake in communications consultancy FGS Global, in a deal that valued FGS at $1.425 billion.
  • In September, FP1 Strategies, a Republican consulting firm and PLUS Communications, its attached public affairs shop, were acquired by the PR division of Omnicom.
  • Last January, Precision Strategies, a Democratic consulting firm with close ties to the White House, sold a minority stake to Abry Partners, based in Boston.

The bottom line: "In today's complex media and political environment, a company's ability to maintain its license to operate requires a more sophisticated approach than it did even two years ago," Spain said.

Go deeper: KKR agrees to buy 30% stake in communications consultancy FGS Global...Bush 43 alumni's Hamilton Place Strategies sells to PE firm...Private equity eyes Subject Matter.

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