Grey puts stake in APCO Worldwide up for bid

WASHINGTON: Grey Global Group announced last week that it was shopping its stake in APCO Worldwide, one of the holding company's two PR properties. The announcement was reported last week on PRWeek.com.

WASHINGTON: Grey Global Group announced last week that it was shopping its stake in APCO Worldwide, one of the holding company's two PR properties. The announcement was reported last week on PRWeek.com.

GCI Group is the other PR agency that is owned by Grey.

Grey, whose main holding is the giant advertising agency Grey Worldwide, owns an approximate 70% stake in APCO, and has hired investment bank Bear Stearns to help locate potential suitors. APCO, which Grey acquired from DC-based law firm Arnold & Porter, has 24 offices in 12 countries.

Describing the split as an amicable one, Ed Meyer, Grey's chairman and CEO, said the move would serve his company's stated strategy of having just one unit in each of the marketing communications disciplines.

Grey's strategy is at odds with that of its competitors, such as Omnicom and WPP, which each own several properties within most marketing disciplines.

In a conversation with PRWeek, APCO president and CEO Margery Kraus, who owns the remaining 30%, expressed an interest in finding a private equity buyer, but Meyer said that as the process has only begun, no offers have yet been made.

"We're leaning toward finding private equity investors or strategic partners for the 70%," said Kraus, referring to Grey's stake in her Washington-based public affairs and strategic communications shop.

But Meyer stopped short of supporting this, leaving his options open, although both agreed that APCO management would be involved in the decision.

"We're in the early stages," Meyer said. "We will be happy to have conversations through our bankers with anyone who expresses interest and is a qualified buyer."

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