WPP calls GCI 'an important addition' after confirming Grey buy

LONDON: Following confirmation of WPP Group's purchase of Grey Global, WPP CEO Martin Sorrell noted that PR represents slightly less than 10% of Grey's current business, but called Grey-owned GCI Group "an important addition to our PR portfolio."

LONDON: Following confirmation of WPP Group's purchase of Grey Global, WPP CEO Martin Sorrell noted that PR represents slightly less than 10% of Grey's current business, but called Grey-owned GCI Group "an important addition to our PR portfolio."

While some observers have voiced concern about client conflicts - WPP's PR firms include Burson-Marsteller, Ogilvy PR, Hill & Knowlton, and Cohn & Wolfe - a GCI spokesperson, who asked not to be named, said, "Our clients had all been [contacted] one on one and assured of client focus" before the sale, adding that the agency will proceed with "business as usual."

Dwayne Cox, director of corporate communications for Dell, one of GCI's largest clients, said, "We anticipate no change."

Other GCI clients include Bayer, ING, Schick, and Wyeth.

Grey's other PR firm, APCO Worldwide, wasn't included in the sale, said APCO CEO Margery Kraus. She added that a management buyout is set to happen within a month.

"We will be doing something that is going to be very interesting for the industry," she said. She declined to elaborate other than to say APCO will be set up in a way "different from a traditional agency model."

GCI and APCO had combined US revenues of $85.4 million in 2001, the latest numbers available, according to rankings by PRWeek.

WPP announced last Monday that it agreed to buy Grey for $1.52 billion, half in cash and half in WPP shares. Grey chose WPP over competing bids from Paris-based Havas and San Francisco-based private equity firm Hellman & Friedman. The deal is expected to be final by January.

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