Public relations firm Lewis PR has received a cash injection of $27 million, which in Asia is to be used to fund expansion in India and China through new services, offices and acquisitions.
The HSBC loan extends over five years and allows the 15 year-old agency to take majority or minority stakes in acquisition targets. The agency, which has global revenue of $72 million, most recently acquired full service digital agency Piston in the US.
In APAC, Lewis is looking to make acquisitions to either drive geographic expansion or service proposition, and a digital agency in Asia would be a likely target, the agency release said.
Lewis also plans to invest $3m over the next two years in staff development, much of this going into a training joint venture called Rise with University of the Arts London. The programme has trained 44 staff from 17 countries to date.
Lewis, which has 10 of 28 offices worldwide in APAC, has registered compound annual growth rate of 28 per cent, growing revenue by 40 per cent in 2014.
“We seem to have found the sweet spot between the global reach of a big agency and the value and creativity of a digital boutique,” CEO Chris Lewis said. “This is resulting in unprecedented demand from our clients around the world. It’s great to see the investment we’ve made over the last five years really paying off.”
Mark J Brown, MD, London Large Corporates at HSBC, said: “HSBC has a strong appetite to support the growth of ambitious mid-market businesses like LEWIS where our international expertise really comes into its own,” said
“We have seen LEWIS grow over the years, and I am pleased we are able to be part of this exciting period for the business, helping it take forward its growth plans to reach and surpass its potential,” he said.
In this region, Lewis is run by APAC VP Scott Pettet. The network has offices in Bangalore, Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney and Taipei.