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Monday, March 05, 2018

Two corporate-advisory boutiques that spent the past decade tripping over each other on Canada's biggest deals are combining forces, with Longview Communications and DFH Public Affairs announcing a merger on Monday aimed at creating a leading national public- and government-relations firm.

Vancouver-based Longview and Toronto-based DFH are coming together in a deal meant to add depth to the services they offer corporate clients, and better deal with competition from far larger rivals such as Hill+Knowlton Strategies and RES PUBLICA Consulting Group, owner of National Public Relations.

The merged firm will be known as Longview Communications and Public Affairs, and be home to 24 professional staff in four cities; Calgary and Winnipeg, along with the existing head offices. The two firms have complimentary expertise: Longview's bread and butter is communications around mergers and acquisitions and activist campaigns, while DFH focuses on both communications and government relations.

"This combination brings together two independent boutiques with highly complementary skills and values to create a communications public-affairs firm with experience and capabilities that we believe sets us apart in the Canadian market," said Longview founder and president Josh Pekarsky. Mr. Pekarsky said partners in the two firms played with the idea of combining forces a number of times over the past decade before finally starting serious merger negotiations five months ago.

The merged company will be owned by four major shareholders, Mr. Pekarsky and DFH partners Bruce Drysdale, Ian Hamilton and Hugh McFadyen, along with a number of employee shareholders. It's relatively common for employee-owned advisory shops to sell their firms to global platforms such as Hill+Knowlton as a prelude to retirement by senior partners. In this case, the major shareholders are all in their early 50s and plan to keep working at the combined firm.

"This combination is about providing a deeper offering of services to our clients," Mr. Hamilton said. "Neither of our firms has ever been driven by growth for growth's sake."

Longview was founded in 2003, while DFH was launched in 2007. The two firms have worked together for clients such as Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. and across the table from each other on a number of deals. In addition to advising on takeovers, the teams have worked on restructurings, including the wind down of retailer Sears Canada Inc. and crisis-management situations such as last summer's refinancing of mortgage lender Home Capital Group Inc.

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