Editorial: Mergers made in Manhatten

The news that IPG is following the WPP strategy of merging its

marketing services arms into two clear advertising and PR brands should

give M&A advisers reasons to be cheerful. Shortly after finishing the

merger of Lowe and Lintas to add to its McCann-Erickson ad agency, WPP

began its acquisition of Young and Rubicam/Burson-Marsteller.

The process of clearing the decks at IPG has been more convoluted, in

part because of the mish-mash of agencies in place when IPG bought the

Shandwick network in 1998.

If that process is nearing completion - and the formation of two clearly

defined agencies in Weber Shandwick and Golin/Harris suggests it is -

this may be a precursor to yet another Interpublic shopping spree

Finding suitable targets is increasingly difficult in a market of few

desirable independents, but difficult does not mean impossible.

The principle of rationalising PR brands into two is a sound one, and

the management in place are doubtless able to push through the necessary

cultural changes during the details phase of the merger process.

It is scarcely coincidental that almost all these managers are based in

the US. Since the resignations of deputy Shandwick CEO Michael Murphy

and Chairman Lord Chadlington, the only top-level figure in Europe is

the regional CEO Lutz Meyer. It is a symbol of US dominance that the

UK's most distinguished PR agency is now run largely from Manhattan.

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