Morrow Sodali buys two Aussie companies in a week with Designate, Domestique acquisitions

Morrow Sodali buys two Aussie companies in a week with Designate, Domestique acquisitions

Photo (L-R): Designate's Ben Fletcher, Roger Lindeback and Martin Tyler with Morrow Sodali's Christian Sealey.

Global shareholder engagement and governance company Morrow Sodali has made its second Australian acquisition in the space of a week, purchasing Sydney-headquartered branding and communications agency Designate for an undisclosed sum.

The takeover is TPG Growth-backed Morrow Sodali's fifth in 2023 and comes just four days after the group announced it had acquired Domestique, one of Australia’s leading corporate communication and reputation management consultancies. 

The news also comes just over a year since Morrow Sodali acquired Australian financial communications and investor relations agency Citadel-MAGNUS in November 2022, which was its first since bringing on TPG Growth as a majority investor in April of that year. 

Other recent acquisitions for the fast-growing group include FrameworkESG in March, HXE Partners in August, and Powerscourt in October.

With high-profile clients ranging from Macquarie Group (ASX: MQG) to Dexus (ASX: DXS) to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), Designate has been in business for more than 30 years and has expertise in preparing annual reports, purpose-led brand strategy and identity building, sustainability communications, and more.

"We are incredibly excited to join Morrow Sodali, particularly at a time when such a diverse and complementary group of subject matter experts is coming together under one umbrella," says Designate managing director Ben Fletcher.

"Our longstanding collaboration with their team in supporting joint client initiatives has always been positive, and this acquisition will only accelerate what is possible for clients in terms of our combined value add.

"In addition to creating a more compelling service offering for clients, joining Morrow Sodali also provides greater career opportunities for our team including collaboration with colleagues in other regions."

Roger Lindeback, Designate's director for brand and strategy, says Morrow Sodali's focus on stakeholder engagement services presents a natural fit.

"We have always been impressed with the team at Morrow Sodali and their approach to supporting clients," he says.

"This acquisition will open even greater opportunities for our business and team members in terms of the clients we support, markets we operate in, and more."

TPG partner Ransom Langford says Australia is an important marketplace for Morrow Sodali, with Designate's integrated brand and communications offering set to enhance the group's value for clients here, while also complementing the work of other specialist teams including those at Domestique.

Also based in Sydney, Domestique was founded in 2013 by Ross Thornton, Lauren Thompson, and Jim Kelly, establishing itself over more than a decade as a key advisor to Australian and international companies, working across complex and high-profile reputation management issues, transaction communications involving large scale mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and initial public offerings (IPOs), strategic investor relations, public affairs advisory and listed company disclosure.

Domestique has grown in recent years to include managing partners Jon Snowball and Helen Karlis. All five Partners will become shareholders in Morrow Sodali and are committed to driving the combined business forward. 

"By merging with Morrow Sodali, we can offer our clients a much broader, more coordinated, and global suite of services than we can on our own," Domestique chairman Ross Thornton said.

"We can also offer our team far greater opportunities to build their careers both in Australia and across the world. 

"We have known and admired Maria Leftakis, Christian Sealey and the Morrow Sodali team, as well as Peter Brookes, Brett Clegg, and the Citadel-MAGNUS team for decades. Joining forces with them as part of a growing global network with the backing of TPG is a great opportunity for our team and our clients."

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