Cision Chief Seeks $5 Million Purchases as Growth Phase Starts

Cision AB is looking for small, complementary acquisitions that would add skilled sales staff and client lists as the Swedish provider of public relations services has completed its divestment phase and seeks growth.

Cision will focus on targets costing less than $5 million, said Chief Executive Officer Hans Gieskes in an interview Aug. 31. Cision’s growth will mainly come from selling more services to existing clients or adding new clients, he said.

Since taking over the Stockholm-based company in 2008 Gieskes has sold off all but one of the traditional press clippings businesses and focused on the software platform CisionPoint. The platform offers clients services including media contacts, monitoring and tracking as well as analysis tool that tracks impact and return on investment. Selling one new subscription, including bundled services, typically results in four renewals with a total value of about $25,000, he said.

“To be a real player in this industry what you need to have is a really first-class software platform,” Gieskes said. “We probably have the best software platform in the industry.”

Cision currently has about 75 percent of its sales in the U.S. and 25 percent in Europe, which has served Cision well due to the strong dollar and better economic prospects in the U.S., Gieskes said. An expansion into Asia is somewhere on the agenda. It won’t happen short-term, meaning in the coming couple of years, he said.

The options for the only remaining clippings business, the one in Canada, are limited, Gieskes said. The strategy has been to sell off before only one company remains and in Canada Cision is probably the last one. Cision may seek to divest the business or keep it and try to change the revenue mix, he said.

Cision on June 25 said it agreed to sell its print monitoring business in the U.S. to BurrellesLuce for a fixed price of $2 million plus a sum based on earnings, the eighth such divestment since January, 2009.

“I think, by and large, we are done with transforming and turning around and we are now in a growth phase of the business,” Gieskes said.

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