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K Street Files: FTI Consulting Snaps Up C2 Group

Roll Call
by Kate Ackley

The C2 Group is off the market.

Global advisory firm FTI Consulting has acquired the dozen-lobbyist shop. C2 founder Tom Crawford said the goal is “significant and robust growth” for his firm, which last year brought in just under $6 million in revenue.

The two outfits will not disclose the terms of the deal, which took more than a year to complete, but C2 will keep its brand — for now — and its office space in the Penn Quarter section of Washington, D.C., Crawford noted.

C2’s employee and client roster will remain, Crawford said. Its list of clients includes well-known companies such as PepsiCo Inc., Comcast Corp., Yum! Brands Inc., eBay Inc., 7-Eleven Inc., Porsche AG and Intuit Inc.

Crawford said C2, which he founded in 2001 with John Cline, had been approached over the years by law firms and other suitors. “On at least a couple of occasions we got down to being presented term sheets and the letter of intent,” he said, “but we never got comfortable with the way the deal was going to be. You have to go with your gut.”

He said joining the fold of a management consulting firm with global reach makes for a better fit because of where he sees the lobbying business heading.

“I think the business of lobbying is going to become increasingly obsolete as we do it today,” Crawford said.

A resource-constrained Washington and a gridlocked Congress will be less likely to be moved by “shoe leather lobbying,” and instead “you have to be able to drive the message,” he added.

More of his work is on defense and crisis management. Consumer activist groups have “bypassed the traditional ways things are done,” Crawford said.

The affiliation with FTI will also lead to more political intelligence gathering — where Washington-savvy operatives like Crawford and his team explain the goings-on of the nation’s capital to investors and business leaders. “I’m very excited that in their platform, being able to help clients understand what is real and not real in Washington is very much valued,” Crawford said.

Crawford added that one of the things that made the deal with FTI attractive to him and his colleagues at C2 was that FTI was less interested in tapping into C2’s existing client base and more focused on setting up a government relations component among its offerings.

“More and more, our clients require direct advocacy services in the pursuit of legislative and regulatory outcomes,” Edward Reilly, global chief executive officer of FTI’s strategic communications practice, said in a press statement.

The two outfits already have clients in common. And a joint pitch from C2 and an FTI team in Brussels has landed the lobbyists a “big global player” as a client, though Crawford declined to name the firm.

As for signing away his firm’s independence, Crawford called the acquisition “bittersweet.”

“I feel like we’ve built something,” he said. “I like the autonomy, but at the same time, I’m not going to miss all the things that come with being a small-business owner, like doing payrolls.”

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