Freuds director Oliver Wheeler described Chime chairman Lord Bell and Freuds founder Matthew Freud as 'old mates', admitting: 'It's true as an agency we're always in discussions with someone or other, but talk of a takeover or merger is categorically denied.'
However, senior Chime sources suggested the FTSE-listed firm is keen to proceed with a deal to buy out the agency within time, but - as with its effort to acquire financial agency College Hill Associates - the move has been put on hold due to adverse capital market conditions.
Freuds' board bought the agency back from marketing group AMV in July last year at a cost of £10m (PRWeek, 6 July), the same price paid for the agency seven years earlier.
Freuds sources described the continued rumours - which were first reported in The Sunday Times and continued throughout this week - as 'annoying', while Lord Bell declined to comment on the mounting speculation.
Freuds sources accepted that the two agencies have a history of working closely together, and refused to discount the possibility of the two agencies collaborating on a project later this year.
It is understood that the two agencies refer new business leads to each other when there is a clash with their own existing clients.
- Leader, p8.