The Viennese communications agency The Skills Group, one of Austria’s leading PR agencies for decades, as well as its digital subsidiary datenwerk and the marketing agency All Channels Communication Austria are changing hands. They will become part of „Team Farner“, a rapidly growing, pan-European agency group headquartered in Switzerland. In return, the previous Skills shareholders Jürgen Gangoly, Stefan Sengl, Jörg Wollmann and Helmut Stögerer will take a stake in Farner International AG and become partners in “Team Farner”.
With the takeover of The Skills Group GmbH and its subsidiaries, the pan-European “Team Farner” takes a big step towards market leadership in the Austrian communications market. In addition to the takeover of the agency group Kobza Media Group (KTHE, alpha-z, massgeschneidert, diego5 and Darwin’s Circle), which already took place in autumn 2022, “Team Farner” is now expanding in Austria with three more successful agencies.
Jürgen Gangoly, Managing Partner and CEO, The Skills Group: “The merger of our agencies in ‘Team Farner’ is a significant step in the long-standing success story of Skills. By working closely with other top agencies and management consultancies from across Europe, our clients and associates will benefit equally. We look forward to actively shaping the development and growth of the European agency group ‘Team Farner’ in the future.”
His managing director colleague Jörg Wollmann adds: “Our group has grown continuously in recent years, both organically, through acquisitions and by founding a joint venture. The merger with Team Farner creates new and cross-border opportunities for our companies. This gives our clients even better and faster access to the know-how of international top experts from all communication disciplines and increases our attractiveness as an employer.”
Roman Geiser, Executive Chairman Team Farner: “The Skills Group has been a fixed star in the Austrian PR and communications industry for decades – internationally recognised, commercially successful and with extensive experience in advising large companies, public bodies, institutions, start-ups and NGOs. At Skills, the development and implementation of complex communication projects has always gone hand in hand with social responsibility, innovation, crisis communication, digital and marketing know-how. This is a perfect fit for Team Farner, where we bring together successful partner-led communications consultancies.”
Farner Consulting AG, for decades the market leader among communications agencies in Switzerland and among the top 10 agencies in continental Europe, has been building a new agency group together with the investment house ‘Waterland Private Equity’, which specialises in European buy-and-build strategies, since 2021. The goal for the coming years: to build a leading European consultancy for integrated communication that holds top positions in all important markets. In Austria, Team Farner, together with Kobza Media Group and The Skills Group, is already the clear market leader among agencies.
In addition to Farner Consulting AG in Switzerland, Team Farner now includes the Austrian communications and marketing group Kobza Media, the VIM Group in the Netherlands, which specialises in brand transformation and technology, the video specialist Yoveo, the digital agency Blueglass and the NextGeneration marketing agency Jim&Jim in Switzerland. Furthermore, the renowned German agencies komm.passion (Düsseldorf), Kirchhoff Consult (Berlin) and the behavioural science expert team of Affective Advisory (Zurich) joined Team Farner only a few days ago. Currently, Team Farner already unites 16 partner agencies at 23 locations in five countries (CH, AT, DE, NL, UK) with more than 600 associates and a fee volume of around 100 million euros per year. Further acquisitions are in the pipeline.
The previous owners of the agency Skills, Jürgen Gangoly, Stefan Sengl, Jörg Wollmann and Helmut Stögerer, are taking a stake in Farner International AG, based in Switzerland, as part of the transaction. As partners in the Europe-wide agency group, they will help shape its development and expansion and will continue to be responsible for the agency management of Skills.
Skills Managing Director Jürgen Gangoly will set up the “Farner Academy” at European level and manage this group-internal training and further education institution in the future. Furthermore, the teams of Skills, datenwerk and All Channels Communication Austria will bring their expertise in the areas of issue management, crisis communication, sustainability (ESG), change management, digital communications and social media to the Farner team at European level.
The three new Austrian additions to Team Farner – Skills, datenwerk and All Channels Communication Austria – will continue to be managed as independent brands and companies by the existing management and partner teams. In future, the agencies will use “Team Farner” as a brand suffix.
Skills, datenwerk and All Channels Communication Austria generated a total turnover of over 4.5 million euros in 2022. The closing of the transaction is expected to take place in spring 2023, subject to the approval of the relevant antitrust authorities.
The transaction was accompanied by HAIDER/OBEREDER/PILZ Rechtsanwält:innen GmbH (Michael Pilz) and CAUSA Wirtschaftstreuhand GMBH (Gregor Frieb) on behalf of The Skills Group, datenwerk and All Channels Communication Austria.