New boss Ian Priest moves Grace Blue into the marcoms rainmaker business with SI tie-up


It’s interesting that headhunter Grace Blue has teamed up with M&A advisor SI Partners to launch a consultancy/company matchmaking service. It makes sense to do deals as well as move people around.

IanPriest-20150916032542562Grace Blue appointed former VCCP partner Ian Priest (below) as CEO last year. Priest is an interesting character, starting in below-the-line before going into Chime-owned VCCP. So he’s a businessman as opposed to an adman. He was president of the UK agency trade body the IPA until last year, introducing a very sensible ‘Adapt’ programme aimed at helping clients and agencies to get along better together. Alas, this seems to have gone the way of all such high-minded initiatives.

But it’ll be interesting to see if he can turn Grace Blue into a mover and shaker dealmaker in the ad and media business.

Priest says: “Within our industry, many new buyers are entering the frame from a variety of sectors and geographies, and they’re providing sellers with an increased range of options. It’s creating an environment that demands expertise in understanding cultural fit to ensure sustainable success for both parties.

“SI Partners has been the leading M&A advisor in the creative communications and digital technology space for a long time and is ideally suited to partner with us in helping our industry’s buyers and sellers create synergy within this emerging marketplace, by carrying out due diligence both from a financial and people point of view.”

SI Partners’ Charles Fallon says: “In a post digital age, brands, media owners and creative businesses need experienced leadership that are proficient across the media, technology and consumer sectors. The competition for acquiring this talent – be it in the form of an individual or a business – has increased dramatically over the last several years.

“This shift in the marketplace means buyers and sellers require access to a deeper and more intimate understanding of C-suite creative and technology talent than ever before. Grace Blue has a better handle on this talent than any other firm and is uniquely positioned to help leadership carry businesses into their next phase. We’re thrilled to partner with them.”

It clearly hasn’t escaped Priest’s and Fallon’s attention that big consultancies and tech firm are snapping up digital marcoms companies.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.