Downing Street must be paved with gold – or so it must seem to Tim Allen (pictured), boss of London PR firm Portland, who has just sold a majority stake in his company to Omnicom. The deal values Portland at up to £20m.
Allen is a former PR adviser to Tony Blair in Number 10 and founded his own business in 2001 with the BSkyB PR account. He had worked at BSkyB as director of communications. Apparently he turned down an invitation to succeed Alastair Campbell as Blair’s media spokesman in 2005, wisely it now seems although Campbell hasn’t done badly out of his Blair connection either.
Portland makes about £1.3m on a turnover of 6.7m, so Allan and his partners are going to have to motor a bit to reach the top valuation. But good connections are all in PR and Allan’s stint in Downing Street and then at BSKYB means his are as good as anyone’s. His first employee was Rachel Whetstone, wife to David Cameron’s former communications guru Steve Hilton. Whetstone is now Google’s European PR boss and the Google account resides at Portland.
Portland’s other UK accounts (it also has an office in the US) include Tesco. With Tesco reviewing all and sundry in its sprawling empire, including the ad account at The Red Brick Road, now may not be a bad time to sell.