IMG Worldwide' Eyes New Sports, Lifestyle, Digital Visions With Acquisition Of Catalyst

By Barry Janoff

January 7, 2013: It is not often when even the best of alliances are called "incredibly clean" and "a perfect fit." But that is how IMG Worldwide and Catalyst described the pact under which Catalyst Public Relations has become part of IMG Consulting.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"This is a perfect complement for both sides," said Bret Werner, managing partner for New York-based Catalyst. "We live in a world of 360-degree marketing and this will enable us to speak to our current clients with even more depth."

With the acquisition, Catalyst’s current management team of Werner, Bill Holtz and Ted Fragulis will all join IMG, as will their staff of full time employees in their New York, Charlotte and Los Angeles offices. Werner will continue in his role as managing partner and will report to David Abrutyn, svp and global managing director for IMG Consulting.

"The union has been incredibly clean regarding conflicts of interest in our existing client roster or that of Catalyst's," said Abrutyn. "We always have our eye on acquisitions where and when they make sense for us. We have been working with Catalyst for several years, and they have been on the top of our wish list. This past May, conversations in that direction started to pick up when we decided we wanted to make an acquisition in that area."

IMG Worldwide, initially known as International Management Group, was founded in 1960 by Mark McCormack, whose first client was his friend and business partner, Arnold Palmer. IMG, which was acquired in 2004 by Forstmann Litte & Co., is now established in more than 30 counties in sports, fashion, lifestyle and media. Clients include Cam Newton, Eli Manning, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova and, most recently, Novak Djokovic, who signed with IMG in December.

In addition to IMG Consulting, IMG includes IMG College, IMG Golf, IMG Tennis, IMG Fashion, IMG Models, IMG Art+Commerce, IMG Clients, IMG Academy and IMG Licensing.

Founded in 2005, Catalyst clients include Subway, Under Armour, Dick's Sports Goods, Timex, Purina, Powerade and Vitaminwater.

"The skill sets that Catalyst brings in, especially in the areas of social and digital media, will enable us to enhance the work we do for our clients even farther."

According to Abrutyn, the two firms "are working on something major together that we plan to bring to the marketplace before too long."

"The sports marketing area, and the connection between consumers and and the various sports and lifestyle interests that they follow, is stronger than ever," said Abrutyn. "And the various skill sets that Catalyst brings in, especially in the area of social and digital media, will enable us to enhance the work we do for our clients even farther."
Added Werner, "We’ve enjoyed a strong and productive working relationship with IMG for many years. The ability to join IMG Consulting and continue with our current client service model as well as expand our traditional PR and digital expertise globally provides us with the opportunity to evolve and grow well into the future.”

Q&A: How IMG College Got Game

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