June 10, 2022 – As executive search firms continue to seek ways to scale their brands, and serve clients more holistically, integration is likely to become the new buzzword in the industry. Global CEO advisory and executive search firm Teneo recently acquired a majority stake in WestExec Advisors, an advisory firm based in Washington, D.C. “Now, more than ever, business leaders around the world are faced with a constant barrage of geopolitical, economic, social, and market disruption that impact their operations, valuations, and reputations,” said Paul Keary, CEO of Teneo. “The deepening of our relationship with WestExec through this transaction will keep Teneo at the forefront of these conversations with CEOs and their teams around the world. The Teneo and WestExec teams have already developed a great partnership working collaboratively across many client mandates, and we have very ambitious plans to further scale the business.”
WestExec co-founders and managing partners Michèle Flournoy, Sergio Aguirre, and Nitin Chadda lead an unrivaled, multidisciplinary, and bipartisan team of leaders with broad experience and unmatched networks in defense, foreign policy, intelligence, economics, cybersecurity, data privacy, and strategic communications. Since it was founded in 2017, the firm has grown to include over 40 team members working globally.
WestExec provides clients with a wide range of services including strategic counsel, geopolitical risk analysis, capital advisory, market entry and expansion support, counsel on international economics and regulatory issues, as well as advising on managing China-related risks in an era of strategic competition.
“We are excited by the additional investment in WestExec – which is intended to accelerate growth as we build a larger advisory platform and seek to broaden and scale our robust offerings. It will also further enable us to continue to deliver the highest quality strategic advice and support to our growing client base,” said Ms. Flournoy. “The combination of skills and expertise offered by our two firms provides our clients with a set of services they can’t get anywhere else in the market today.”
WestExec Advisors will continue to operate as an independent brand working in close partnership with the Teneo team. This transaction follows Teneo’s minority investment in WestExec in 2021.
Related: ZRG Acquires Turnkey Search
Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz served as legal advisors to Teneo on the transaction. Holland & Knight served as legal advisors to WestExec on the transaction.
Investing in Search Firms
Last year, Teneo acquired U.K.-based Ridgeway Partners, an advisory firm specializing in executive search, board appointments, and succession planning for a wide range of companies. Ridgeway, headquartered in London, has grown from a small, affiliated business into a sizeable independent partnership. And it has been seeking growth and expansion opportunities in the face of the pandemic. The firm has expertise in board appointments and advisory services to both public and private companies, including a special focus on the appointment of diverse directors. Ridgeway’s functional expertise include executive committee roles in finance, IT/digital, risk and HR, operating across all sectors. In addition, Ridgeway has industry experience in retail financial services, investment banking, asset and wealth management, insurance, consumer markets, oil and gas, and technology.
Make no mistake, these have been sobering days for executive recruiting firms around the globe. Most of them, regardless of size, location, or specialization were caught flat-footed by one of the most sweeping economic crises to ever hit the sector. As a result, the nation’s top search consultants have been resetting expectations throughout 2020 – and, in the process, setting a new course as 2021 looms.
Professional services firms – and executive recruiting outfits in particular – have a long history of finding their way through tough times. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. Many search firms have used this time to dust off their own continuity and succession plans, or to reconsider that merger or acquisition which was something of a nuisance when times were flush. Others have taken a hard look at their capitalization strategies. This crisis, like no other, has driven many of the most well-known and respected brands in the recruiting business to reassess everything about their businesses, top to bottom.
Behind the scenes, this has been an active year for executive recruitment firms. To meet their advisory needs, Hunt Scanlon Media earlier this year launched a new set of solutions to assist search firms and talent solutions providers seeking mergers, acquisitions, or funding connections. Founders Scott A. Scanlon and Christopher W. Hunt sit down to discuss the new venture and the state of the industry.
Sue O’Brien OBE, previous managing partner, is now chairman of Ridgeway and continues to lead the Ridgeway team as part of Teneo, reporting to Chris Wearing, the chairman of Teneo International. The Ridgeway team also works closely with Nick Claydon, CEO of Teneo UK, and the firm’s more than 300 U.K.-based professionals providing Teneo clients with integrated advisory services.
“Our clients will benefit greatly from Teneo’s global network and broad set of CEO advisory capabilities,” said Ms. O’Brien. “Ridgeway is a market leader in board-level search and shares a passion for promoting diversity in the boardroom with Teneo. Together, through our combined CEO and board relationships, we can significantly expand our talent strategy and advisory services.”
Teneo offers a full range of advisory services includes strategic communications, investor relations, financial transactions and restructuring, management consulting, physical and cyber risk, organizational design, board and executive search, geopolitics and government affairs, corporate governance, ESG, and DEI. The firm has more than 1,500 employees located in 40 offices around the world.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media