Teneo, Consulting Firm with Clinton Ties, Eyes $1 Billion IPO

Date : 09/13/2016 @ 2:30PM
Source : Dow Jones News
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Teneo, Consulting Firm with Clinton Ties, Eyes $1 Billion IPO

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A consulting firm with ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton is eyeing the possibility of an initial public offering, according to people familiar with the matter.

Teneo Holdings, whose clients include chief executives of some of the world's biggest companies, has benefited from its founders' association with the Clintons. Douglas Band is a former top aide to Mr. Clinton who helped shape his postpresidential career and created the Clinton Global Initiative. Declan Kelly is a businessman whom Mrs. Clinton appointed U.S. Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland when she was secretary of state.

New York-based Teneo, with 575 employees, markets itself as a one-stop shop for CEOs to get advice on a wide range of issues, including mergers and acquisitions, handling crises and managing public relations. For its services, it generally charges clients monthly retainer fees of $100,000 to $300,000.

The five-year-old firm, which has backing from private-equity firm BC Partners, has clients including Xerox Corp. and Coca-Cola Co. Teneo could go public as early as next year, say people familiar with the matter. Other options under consideration include a merger with another firm or a sale of some of Teneo's units, the people said. Some of the people said Teneo is aiming for a valuation of as much as $1 billion. Since last year, it has bought up several firms in a global expansion spree.

The timing of any IPO or other exit is unclear. Teneo hasn't hired bankers to formally prepare for the process.

The idea for the firm came about a couple of years before the firm got its official start in 2011. At its inception, Teneo embraced its ties to the Democratic establishment. Mr. Clinton joined Teneo as honorary chairman although he left in 2012. Huma Abedin, one of Mrs. Clinton's longtime aides, worked at Teneo for a few months while simultaneously holding a job in the State Department when Mrs. Clinton was Secretary of State.

The connection to Mr. Clinton—as well as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was an early Teneo adviser—gave the new firm credibility as it pitched for business, according to William Burck, a partner at law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP and a former special counsel to President George W. Bush.

With Mrs. Clinton campaigning for president, intense scrutiny of the intersection of the Clintons' government, business and philanthropic activities has focused more attention on Teneo. Last year, for example, Republican Senator Charles Grassley asked the State Department for records laying out all dealings between Ms. Abedin and Mr. Band, who spent most of his career working for Mr. Clinton, first at the White House and then at the Clinton foundation.

"It's unfortunate that they're getting caught up in a political cycle," Mr. Burck said. "When you hire former government people, there's always going to be a question of the revolving door."

In the financial and corporate worlds, Teneo is getting more attention for the breakneck speed at which it is adding services and hiring people, as well as talk of a future IPO.

The vast majority of the firm's roughly 500 clients have come about through the networks of the founders or through referrals. Clients also have been sold on the presence of senior Teneo advisers such as former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, former British foreign secretary William Hague and Harvey Pitt, the former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"When I interviewed with them…they said, 'we want you to understand we're not a politically affiliated organization, we're here to help companies,'" said General Raymond Odierno, the retired chief of staff of the U.S. Army who this year became a senior adviser at Teneo. "They were very clear to me about this."

Among Teneo's earliest clients was Dow Chemical Co., whose CEO Andrew Liveris got to know Mr. Kelly in 2008, back when he worked at another firm. These days, Mr. Liveris considers Mr. Kelly one of his most-trusted advisers, speaking to him several times a week, say people familiar with the matter.

Xerox Corp. CEO Ursula Burns said in an interview that Mr. Kelly had become her "sounding board" and that Teneo's role is a "little like a traffic cop" in helping manage multiple aspects of the separation of Xerox into two companies. Ms. Burns said she'd never heard of Teneo until another Xerox executive set up a meeting and only found out about its Clinton ties after the firm had been hired.

Write to Anupreeta Das at anupreeta.das@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 13, 2016 09:15 ET (13:15 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2016 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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