FH ’99 shopping spree continues with two acquisitions by year end

ST. LOUIS: Independent agencies watch out. John Graham is once again getting ready to take out his checkbook.

ST. LOUIS: Independent agencies watch out. John Graham is once again getting ready to take out his checkbook.

ST. LOUIS: Independent agencies watch out. John Graham is once

again getting ready to take out his checkbook.



The Fleishman-Hillard chairman has told PRWeek that he expects to

announce two more acquisitions before the end of this year, one in the

US and one in the UK. While Graham would not discuss any details about

the size or specialty of the planned acquisition targets, he expressed

confidence that the deals are close enough to being consummated that

they will be formally announced before the clock strikes midnight on New

Year’s Eve.



’Nothing’s definite, but you can expect to be hearing from us,’ Graham

promised.



Any acquisitions would add further luster to a year which saw Graham

embark on a major-league buying binge. In April, Fleishman purchased

Watt, Roop & Co., the third-largest PR firm in Cleveland (PRWeek, April

26), while the agency bought the London-based CPR Worldwide in October

(PRWeek, Oct. 18). Other 1999 acquisitions included Meltzer & Martin

(Dallas) and Upstart Communications (Emoryville, CA).



Despite persistent rumors that Fleishman is hoping to up its public

affairs and healthcare portfolios, it is unclear what type of agency the

company is after. Graham specifically ruled out the entertainment PR

sector, despite his pursuit earlier this year of celebrity shop

Baker/Winokur/Ryder.



That agency was sold to Ogilvy in October for a rumored dollars 12

million.



The reason it is so difficult to get a grip on Fleishman’s plans is

Graham’s stated preference to choose possible takeover targets based on

the quality of their people, rather than on specialty or geographical

location. Continued growth and acquisitions, Graham believes, keeps good

people within the Fleishman family. ’People want to be part of a growing

organization,’ he said.



Graham also revealed that Fleishman will achieve its stated goal of

generating dollars 200 million in fee income this year. The company will

realize 23% organic growth and total growth of 26% when acquisitions are

figured into the mix.



While Graham’s revenue goal for 2000 is a lofty dollars 265 million, he

said that planned acquisitions in Europe and Australia next year will

help the firm attain that figure.



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