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Timmons, BKSH Join After Losing Revenue

The soft economy forced a merger on Monday between the legendary lobbying firm Timmons and Co. and BKSH & Associates Worldwide. The combined shop will be known as Prime Policy Group and emerges in the wake of stagnant financial growth by both firms in recent months.

“It’s the perfect business decision if revenue is flat,— said Scott Pastrick, president of BKSH, who will retain that title with the new firm. Republican lobbyist Charlie Black, who hails from BKSH, will be chairman of the new firm.

Pastrick also said that the merger will preserve the jobs of roughly 40 lobbyists who work in both offices, although the ranks of administrative staff may face cuts. The new firm will have 13 Democratic and 11 GOP senior lobbyists, he said, and neither firm was required to shed clients because of conflicts of interest.

“That’s still a question that’s being pondered,— he said of potential cuts to support staff. “Obviously, we’re going to look at the business model and the scales of economy. … Right now, it’s pretty much in the process.—

The merger negotiations began last spring, just as Timmons was preparing to report dismal revenue totals for the first six months of the year. The firm, which opened its doors in 1975, posted $2.2 million in Lobbying Disclosure Act-based revenues through July 1, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The weak midyear totals threatened to put Timmons well off the pace to even meet its 2008 LDA totals: $5.6 million. In the past six months, the firm has lost once-lucrative clients such as Chrysler, Visa and financial services firm Vanguard Group.

Before their contracts were terminated this year, Timmons did more than $1 million worth of LDA revenue for the three companies. The firm also billed Freddie Mac for $300,000 worth of lobbying activities in 2008 before the government-sponsored enterprise was put in conservatorship.

Timmons posted it highest revenue total of the past decade in 2003. That year, the shop raked in $7.9 million in LDA fees, a total it has yet to meet again.

BKSH experienced solid LDA-based revenue growth in recent years until the recession took hold. Firm revenues last year rose to $8.4 million from $8.1 million in 2007. BKSH in 2006 generated $7.3 million in revenue. The firm brought in $3.4 million through July 1, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Despite Timmons’ apparent decline in recent years, Pastrick claimed his firm is not riding to its rescue. He also denied that WPP, the massive public relations conglomerate that owns both companies, forced the deal.

“We had been looking for a while at what law firms are doing, the growth around the industry, the changes around the industry, and we felt that the best way to add value to clients and the balance sheets was to find a like culture, and it was sitting right here at WPP,— he said. “Timmons clearly has a strong stable of clients and lots of expertise, and clearly so do we.—

Representatives for both Timmons and WPP did not respond to separate requests for comment.

The firm’s new president also said that Timmons lobbyists work directly with Member offices. Pastrick said the arrangement will free up BKSH’s foot soldiers to do more non-LDA work, particularly among multinational corporations.

“Timmons very much is a traditional advocacy firm. We’re adding those advocacy services to our stable of clients and services, which will allow us to address some of the consultancy side of the equation,— Pastrick said. Clients are “less wanting to advocate and more wanting the blueprint, understanding how to do business in the U.S., how to do business in state and federal capitals.—

“We’re looking at that as a growth industry for us,— he added. “Having those additional advocacy talents is going to free up some manpower for us to do some of this other stuff.—

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