Chime Communications was on the brink of completing its purchase of
advertising agency HHCL and Partners, as PR Week went to press this
Marketing services group WPP played a crucial role in the final
negotiations by taking a sizeable stake in Chime, giving HHCL its
long-desired access to an international advertising network.
WPP’s involvement brings an additional bonus for Chime which will gain
links with the bigger group’s global PR networks, Hill and Knowlton and
Ogilvy, Adams and Rinehart.
The pounds 20 million acquisition of HHCL is expected to double the size
of Chime, which currently has a market capitalisation of around pounds
30 million, attracting a broader base of investor interest. Confirmation
that the two agencies were in advanced negotiations has already pushed
Chime’s shares up 5.75 p to 54.5p.
Sir Tim Bell will remain as chairman of Chime, while current managing
director Piers Pottinger will become deputy chairman and also joint
chief executive with HHCL chief executive Rupert Howell.
HHCL, Chime and WPP agencies will continue to operate independently, but
are expected to work together on shared clients.
WPP will pour pounds 15 million into Chime coffers in return for a 29.9
per cent share of the enlarged company and the option of two executive
However, WPP chief executive officer Martin Sorrell will not be joining
There will be no formal links between Lowe Bell, H&K and OA&R but use
will be made of international networks on a client-by-client basis.
OA&R’s Asia Pacific network is likely to prove a particularly useful fit
for Lowe Bell’s financial client base.
However, some insiders at WPP PR operations have already expressed
doubts on the willingness of H&K and OA&R to open the doors of their
international networks to Lowe Bell, citing cultural differences between