Fleishman Hillard senior staff await outcome of equity offer talks

NEW YORK: Omnicom bosses are investigating ways of giving an equity stake in the group to senior staff at Fleishman Hillard.

NEW YORK: Omnicom bosses are investigating ways of giving an equity stake in the group to senior staff at Fleishman Hillard.

Nearly 1,000 FH staff from more than 14 countries gathered in St Louis on October 23 to hear Omnicom CEO John Wren give his first address to the agency since it was acquired in 1997. In the speech, he focused on the need to preserve FH's 'winning culture' in order to attract and keep the best people. He is considering giving staff the opportunity to take a stake in the company to maintain that culture. FH staff who had a stake in the company lost it when Omnicom - which is listed on the Dow Jones - bought the agency.

This week FH's long-term CEO John Graham told PRWeek that he was discussing with Wren the possibility of equity ownership. 'We are making no commitment to it at this stage,' he said. 'I think exploring is the right word - we're exploring the options.'

Although he had to remain non-commital, Graham did say there could be an announcement in the next month. He denied there had been a 'verbal commitment' to equity ownership, but one staff member attending the conference said that was his 'understanding of Wren's speech.'

Staff at the conference - which is said to have cost as much as $2m to organize - were also told that FH revenues for 1998 were likely to exceed $163m, up more than 20% on last year's figure of $135m.

'We've grown incredibly fast,' said Graham. 'We've added $54m in revenues over the last two years. We will have doubled in size three years from now.'

Graham argued that it was worth spending money on the conference because it gave people from the agency's foreign offices the feeling that they are part of the company.

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