Huntsworth has completed one of the largest marketing-related acquisitions of the COVID-19 era, snapping up highly regarded medical communications group Nucleus Global. The deal unites Nucleus’ 14 offices and more than 800 employees across the U.S., Europe and Asia with Huntsworth’s 50 offices in 28 countries and 2,200 people.
Despite the havoc wreaked by COVID, the agreement came together quickly and proceeded with few complications, according to Huntsworth CEO Paul Taaffe. “There was not a lot of drama attached to it,” he said. “There’s always a cultural aspect to these things, a part where sitting down and having a coffee or a glass of wine makes it easier. But I’m pretty straight-talking and so is Stephen Cameron.”
Cameron, who founded Nucleus in 1986, will remain as chairman of Nucleus and join the Huntsworth board.
In terms of its scale and capabilities, Huntsworth adds even more depth and expertise to an organization that was already one of the largest healthcare-facing companies in the world. “The pieces fit together,” Taaffe said, pointing to Nucleus’ scientific firepower and CME in Europe as components that appealed to Huntsworth. “Where they’re very strong, we have some needs and where we’re very strong, they have some needs… We see very fertile opportunities to collaborate.”
Along those lines, Taaffe noted that the merged organization won’t have to spend much time sorting out client conflicts. “There are very few overlaps, just two [pharma] companies of size,” he added.
Nor is Huntsworth particularly worried about personnel overlap across the expanded organization. “There are no redundancies envisaged right now. Frankly, given the growth rates, they’re probably going to have to be hiring people and we are too. There’s a shortage of talent, not of opportunity,” Taaffe said.
Look for Huntsworth to integrate Nucleus gradually over the next year or so, rather than push for immediate synergy. “They’re doing really well and are going to do really well next year, and we don’t want to hurt or disrupt that. We’re not going to do anything hard and fast,” Taaffe continued.
The Nucleus addition is Huntsworth’s second since the company was acquired in May by private equity giant Clayton, Dubilier & Rice. The first was June’s purchase of Cormis, a communications and training consultancy.Earlier this year, Huntsworth reported $162.5 million in 2019 North American healthcare revenue to MM+M, up from $154 million in 2018. Its three divisions that operate in North America are Evoke, MediStrava (which includes ApotheCom) and The Creative Engagement Group (Axiom, WRG and others).