Edelman plans big regional expansion

Global PR consultancy Edelman looks to launch in markets such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.

Powered by automated translation

Edelman, the global public relations company, aims to launch in as many as five markets in the Middle East and Africa by 2014.
The company plans to use its office in Abu Dhabi as a hub, said Richard Edelman, its president and chief executive.
Edelman, which is headquartered in the US, says it has billings of US$4.8 million (Dh17.6m) a year in the UAE, and also has an office in Dubai.
The company was founded by Mr Edelman's father Daniel in 1952, and had global revenues of $532m last year, up from $448m in 2009.
Edelman now plans to launch operations in several new regional markets, which could include Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, executives at the company said.
"I think four, five [within] two or three years," said Mr Edelman. "It is part of the strategy. Is it a one-year strategy, is it a three-year strategy, do we need local partners? It's hard to say. But that we will do it, you can bet on it."
Mr Edelman said the firm had historically employed different strategies in entering new markets. "Sometimes we buy a local firm," he said. "We don't have a specific set of three firms that we're looking at - we're not that far along."
The company, which is the world's largest independent PR agency, has 38 employees in Abu Dhabi, where its clients include Mubadala Development, Yahsat and the Advanced Technology Investment Company. Mubadala is a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government.
It recently won the account to handle UAE public relations for Research In Motion, the Canadian maker of BlackBerry handsets, from the rival Hill & Knowlton PR outfit.
"[The UAE business is] serious, high-value work. And it's now the size of our India business, which is much longer-standing," said Mr Edelman.
He said the firm was expanding its digital media work, which accounts for 10 per cent of its operations in the UAE.
"I think it's going to be 20 per cent of our business when I come back here a year from now," he said.
Iain Twine, the general manager for Edelman UAE, said Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait were the most viable markets in which the company was considering launching.
"We think Saudi is crucially important. Qatar and Kuwait are also interesting," said Mr Twine. "A lot of our international network clients need us to support them in a number of different markets across the GCC."
Edelman has offices in 54 markets, but is yet to set up in Africa. However, it has affiliations with many local public relations companies in Africa and the Gulf.
"We already have affiliate partners across all of the GCC and Africa," said Mr Twine, pointing to partners such as Adalid PR in Saudi Arabia and Baird's in South Africa.
"In time, we'll be looking to upgrade our presence in other markets, as well as partner with others," said Mr Twine.