Carin Canale-Theakston, founder and CEO of Canale Communications.

San Diego public relations firm Canale Communications, which specializes in serving life science companies, has been sold to UDG Healthcare, a Dublin-based international pharmaceutical giant, in a deal that is valued at up to $31 million.

A Canale company spokesman said UDG will pay an initial cash sum of $20 million to be followed by an additional $11 million after three years, depending on profits. Canale Communications will become part of Ashfield Healthcare Communications, UDG Healthcare’s global agency network.

Founed in 2010, Canale Communications will keep its name and Mission Hills office. Its staff of 30 full-time employees is expected to grow with new clients who will benefit from UDG resources, the company said.

Canale provides public relations, investor relations and creative services, including content creation, website development and social media, to about 70 clients in the biotech, biopharma, digital health and genomics fields. Over the years, Canale said it has worked with more than 300 biotech, medical device, digital health and pharmaceutical companies at virtually every stage of development.

The Canale spokesperson also said Carin Canale-Theakston, Canale Communications’ founder and CEO, along with four managing directors, have agreed to remain with the company for a minimum of three years. The four directors include Heidi Chokeir, Pam Lord, Jason Spark and Ian Stone. Canale-Theakston will continue to serve as CEO of the agency post-acquisition.

“The acquisition of CanaleComm by UDG Healthcare and the joining of forces with Ashfield Healthcare Communications’ network is the ideal platform as we look to grow a more robust service offering for our clients,” said Canale-Theakston. “UDG Healthcare’s focus on life sciences, complementary offering, and strong employee-first culture were all extremely attractive to CanaleComm. We are looking forward to being able to continue the strong growth trajectory that we have been on over the last nine years and being part of the broader UDG Healthcare family.”

Earlier this year, Canale Communications was a winner an EY Entrepreneur of the Year award for the San Diego region. Canale was a winner in EY’s talent, marketing and communications category. Also, recently, the company was a winner of 14 awards, including a Best of Show distinction in the blog category, at the 2019 Edward L. Bernays Mark of Excellence awards program presented by the Public Relations Society of America’s San Diego-Imperial Counties chapter.

“We are thrilled CanaleComm has joined Ashfield Healthcare Communications,” said Matt Jacobson, executive director of Ashfield Healthcare Communications. “They bring a distinct and highly complementary service offering for our healthcare and life sciences clients and further strengthen our U.S. footprint especially in the West Coast biotech industry.”

With more than 8,500 employees in 26 countries, UDG, formerly called United Drug, is a leading international firm delivering advisory, communications, commercial, clinical and packaging services to the healthcare industry.

Ashfield, based in Lyndhurst, NJ, provides advisory, communications, commercial and clinical services for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. Founded in 2014, Ashfield was listed in the 2019 list of top 100 healthcare marketing agencies in North America by MM&M magazine. MM&M said Ashfield had revenue of $115 million in 2018.

KYXY-FM Program Director Gone After 37 Years

Mark Blackwell

Mark Blackwell has parted ways with San Diego adult contemporary radio station KYXY-FM 96.5, where he worked for 37 years.

Blackwell, the station’s program director since 2017, said his departure was due to budget cuts. The station, previously owned by CBS Radio San Diego, became part of Philadelphia-based Entercom Communications two years ago.

Blackwell started at KYXY in June 1982 as a news writer and was later promoted to news director. “I made my way into the music and programming department and worked as music director, assistant program director and then as program director,” said Blackwell. “I’m looking forward to my next big adventure.”

SDCCU’s Brand Strategist Named a Man of Influence

Nathan Schmidt

Nathan Schmidt, executive vice president of brand strategy and digital channels with San Diego County Credit Union, has been selected for a 2019 Men of Influence award by SD Metro Magazine. The award recognizes men who are making impactful contributions to the San Diego region.

The magazine said Schmidt’s leadership in raising the bar in creativity, service, strategy and execution has resulted in exponential growth for SDCCU and awareness of the SDCCU brand. Schmidt, who joined SDCCU in 2010, also is a recipient of the Marketing Professional of the Year award by the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council. He also has been recognized as the Brand Professional of the Year by The One Club for Creativity.

PRSA To Host Holiday Appreciation Breakfast

The Public Relations Society of America San Diego-Imperial Counties chapter will host its annual member and volunteer appreciation holiday breakfast, billed this year as “Fa La La Fiesta,” from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 5. at Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant, 4050 Adams Ave.

Admission is free for PRSA members, $20 for students and $30 for nonmembers. The program will include recognition of volunteers, along with discussion of 2019 accomplishments and plans for 2020. Information also will be available about PRSA’s APR accreditation program, now in its 55th year. For information and to RSVP, visit

Rick Griffin

Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.

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