WPP buys powerhouse firm Glover Park Group

The consolidation of K Street continued Tuesday as a global conglomerate snapped up another well-known lobbying brand.

The communications giant WPP announced that it would acquire Glover Park Group, a powerhouse lobbying and public relations firm in Washington. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition follows two other high-profile deals this year: the merger of Clark & Weinstock with the public affairs shop Mercury, and Dutko Worldwide’s merger with the global PR firm Grayling. 

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That follows other big mergers in 2010, including the acquisition of Breaux Lott Leadership Group by Patton Boggs. Also last year, BKSH & Associates Worldwide and Timmons & Co. merged to form Prime Policy Group, now one of K Street’s top-earning firms.

Scott Pastrick, president and CEO of Prime Policy, which is also owned by WPP, said it makes sense for independent lobby shops to enter the global communications market.

“It gives them a deep pocket that gives them potential to grow. They have a parent company that can help,” Pastrick said. “These are large public companies that offer stability in a business that can often be cyclical.”

Glover Park had strong ties to the Clinton administration when it opened its doors in 2001, but has since branched out to hire Republicans. The firm now has more than 140 employees and four offices in Washington, New York, Los Angeles and Boulder, Colo.

Glover Park lobbies for several high-profile clients, including Coca-Cola, Lockheed Martin Corporation and the Walt Disney Company, according to lobbying disclosure records. 

WPP is one of the biggest communications companies in the world. It owns Burston-Marsteller and Hill & Knowlton, among a long list of companies, and employs more than 153,000 people in 107 countries, taking in revenue of $15 billion.

WPP has been snatching up prominent firms active in politics and lobbying over the years. The company also owns Dewey Square Group, Public Strategies Inc. and Quinn Gillespie & Associates. 

“They are judicious, particularly in an economy like this, when it comes to their purchases. I think this is a high compliment to Glover Park,” said Jack Quinn, chairman and co-founder of Quinn Gillespie & Associates, referring to WPP.

Quinn said merging with a global company gives lobbying team distinct advantages over the competition.

“Any time that we have needed help outside of Washington, literally anywhere in the world, you have resources you can reach and can help their clients in that way,” Quinn said. “WPP is a worldwide behemoth. They have referred their clients from around the world to us. We have been able to take our clients to them and get help from other WPP companies from different places in the world.”

Lobbyists expect there will be few changes at Glover Park Group, if WPP’s history is any guide. 

“In the case of WPP, they are very wedded to you keeping your brand and your identity pre-acquisition. Their model is the right one, which is you keep your independence,” Pastrick said.

—Updated at 3:02 p.m.