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Porta Communications PLC: THE INVESTMENT CASE

Porta Communications ready to drive further growth with new management team

Changes to the board and management team this year are having a positive effect on the performance of the business, said chief executive Steffan Williams
Porta owns Newgate Communications, PPS Group and Redleaf Communications, among others

Porta Communications PLC (LON:PTCM) has a new board in place and is ready to drive the next phase of its development and profitability following a strong first half.

The marketing and public relations group has seen a couple of changes at the top this year, having appointed John Foley as non-executive chairman and Rhydian Bankes as chief financial officer to help lead its growth.

READ: Porta Communications sees first half profits jump as it readies itself for next stage of growth

Chief executive Steffan Williams said in the group’s first half results in September that the new management team was already having a positive impact.

“Porta is in the next phase of its development,” said chief executive Steffan Williams.

“In addition to the solid first half performance and the successful ongoing strengthening of our balance sheet, we have made a number of changes to the board and management team which are having a positive effect on the performance of the business.”

He said the group – which is behind City PR firms such as Newgate Communications and Redleaf Polhill – was trading ahead of last year and looks forward to building on the strong progress made in the first half.

In the six months to 30 June, revenues grew 9% to £19.44mln and gross profits rose 20% to £16.48mln, boosted by a strong trading performance in its Asia-Pacific business.

Equity injection from SEC SpA

In August, the company received a £3mln injection from public relations company SEC SpA. SEC agreed to subscribe for 85.7mln Porta shares at 3.5p each, which would result in a 19.3% stake once the dust had settled on a couple of other debt-for-equity agreements.

As well as taking a strategic equity stake in Porta, SEC has signed a commercial collaboration agreement with its UK sector peer that will see the pair share business opportunities and platforms.

SEC and Porta intend for this collaboration to be a global partnership, allowing for a broader set of skilled offerings to be offered across a greater geographical reach than either company is currently able to provide on its own.

Porta boosts stakes in businesses

Porta now has an 81% stake in Redleaf after raising its interest in the PR firm in June. It paid £850,037 in cash for an extra 15% of the business after a put option was exercised, paving the way to the sale.

The group also owns PPS Group along with 13 Communications, Publicasity, 2112 Communications and Summit Marketing Services and has offices around the globe from Aberdeen to Sydney.

Porta is made up of several companies and two divisions.

These divisions are: communications, which includes corporate, financial and consumer PR; and marketing and advertising.

Newgate Australia is one of the star performers in the portfolio and the group has said it is the market leader in the nation. In August, the group lifted its holding in the business by 4.4% to 62%.

In December it also increased its stake in Newgate Hong Kong to 60% from 51%. The business has continued to perform well since, with profits rising 13% in the first half despite a difficult market.

Significant changes

Since being founded in December 2010, the company has rapidly built itself up through the acquisition of a number of businesses and by the start-up of a number of its current businesses.

Last year it went through significant changes as it continued its strategy of creating an integrated international communications business with investment in Newgate UK and new senior hires.

Revenue in the year to 31 December rose 9% to £37.1mln and gross profit increased 10% to £29.7mln in even the absence of acquisitions. 

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