DDA Public Relations’ Lawrence Atkinson and chief financial officer John Stannard have acquired a substantial equity stake in the company as part of a management buy-out.

Atkinson, who has been managing the day-to-day operations of the company for the past three years, and Stannard have now taken over as chief executive and chief operating officer respectively.

DDA founder Dennis Davidson will step back from the frontline of the agency over the next seven years, as the management buy-out is completed. He will concentrate on a smaller roster made up of his long-term clients, as well as some new ones including Reliance ADA and The Future is Wild. He will also serve as chair of an enlarged board of directors.

Davidson said: “As DDA approached its 40th anniversary, I deliberately targeted Lawrence as someone with the enviable mixture of youth and enthusiasm to move DDA into the next decade.”

He added that in Stannard they found an “ambitious entrepreneur” to work with Atkinson to protect the company and build on the platform it has created.

DDA Event Management, which is co-owned by Davidson and Caroline Warburton, is unaffected by the MBO, and the two companies will continue their collaboration.

DDA, which was launched in the UK in 1970 and five years later in the US, is the largest independent agency in the international entertainment sector. It has currently working on campaigns for Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium Of Dr Parnassus, Disney’s A Christmas Carol and Rob Marshall’s Nine among others.

In addition to filmed entertainment, it also works with entertainment brands, including Reliance Big Entertainment, MDA Singapore and the Ealing Studios, providing corporate publicity services.