Hogan Lovells Advises Japan's Top M&A PR Advisor on its Sale to Hakuhodo

TOKYO January 2014 – Hogan Lovells has advised Tokyo-based independent corporate communications firm, Ashton Consulting Ltd. ("Ashton") on the sale of Ashton to Hakuhodo Inc. ("Hakuhodo"), Japan's second largest advertising and marketing services group ("the Transaction"). As Hakuhodo's consolidated subsidiary, Ashton will continue to operate as an independent agency whilst benefiting from the parent's client base and global network. The Transaction was signed on 26 December 2014, and announced on 14 January 2015.

Founded in 2000 by John Sunley, CEO, and later joined by Dan Underwood, Managing Director, Ashton is Japan’s leading independent corporate communications firm with a long track record of advising leading Japanese and international corporations. According to Mergermarket, Ashton was the No. 1 Japan based PR advisor to M&A deals involving Japan in 2013 and 2014 (both by volume and value).

Hakuhodo traces its history back more than 100 years and is now the core agency of Hakuhodo DY Holdings, the world's seventh largest advertising agency group, with offices in 17 countries and regions. The Transaction aligns with Hakuhodo's strategy of strengthening its non-traditional advertising business including specialist marketing and communications advisory.

The Hogan Lovells team advising the Ashton's founders was led by Tokyo corporate partner Rika Beppu and Of Counsel Jacky Scanlan-Dyas.

Commenting on the Transaction, Rika Beppu said:

"As our clients expand domestically and overseas, we as advisors are continually reminded of the importance of having scale and a network of trusted partners. Being corporate advisors ourselves, we understood from early on that the Transaction would be a key milestone for Ashton and have committed our best resources to ensure its success. We congratulate Ashton on joining Hakuhodo and hope to see the firm further consolidate its position as one of the best strategic communications firms in Japan."

Jointly commenting on the Transaction, John Sunley and Dan Underwood said:

"Hogan Lovells and Ashton had a perfect match working together on this project … Rika understands very well the workings of a consulting firm partnership and what our concerns and objectives were. We strongly recommend the Hogan Lovells team for deals in the advisory sector.

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