PALO ALTO, CA: Weber PR Worldwide will soon become the owner of one of the industry’s most coveted and available prizes, Cunningham Communications.
PALO ALTO, CA: Weber PR Worldwide will soon become the owner of one
of the industry’s most coveted and available prizes, Cunningham
Sources told PRWeek last week that Weber is close to finalizing a
dollars 70 million deal to acquire Cunningham, which has been in play
for a number of years. Previous suitors had balked at Cunningham’s
reported dollars 90 million price tag.
The Weber/Cunningham juggernaut would instantly leapfrog to the top of
the list of hi-tech PR firms.
While the deal may not appear to make sense on the surface - the
agencies share the same hi-tech focus and boast offices in many of the
same locations - one source said that Weber has long held out hope of
pairing its resources with Cunningham’s to create the industry’s
preeminent hi-tech shop. Other factors motivating the deal may have been
the longtime friendship between Weber prexy Larry Weber and Cunningham
chairman and CEO Andy Cunningham, and Cunningham’s reported recent
difficulty remaining competitive in the hotly contested Silicon Valley
Still, questions remain as to whether the deal is feasible. For one,
there are likely to be extensive conflicts of interest among clients of
the two firms. Also, one source questioned whether Cunningham
Communications was willing to take a second-banana role: ’The agency has
such a huge ego that they would never settle for just being a trophy
brand for Weber.’
Sources weren’t clear about a potential role for Andy Cunningham, nor
whether Weber would snap up all six of Cunningham’s newly created
operating units. If Weber only acquires a few of the Cunningham arms,
however, this could reduce some of the potential conflicts.
Neither Larry Weber nor Andy Cunningham returned calls for comment.
Cunningham president/COO Joe Hamilton and marketing VP Trish Willcoxon,
however, denied the rumor of any deal.
Top 10 tech firms pending merger
1 Weber/Cunningham 42.7*
2 Waggener-Edstrom 40.9
3 Fleishman-Hillard 27.2
4 Brodeur Worldwide 26.7
5 Shandwick Internat’l 25.6
6 Copithorne & Bellows 23.6
7 Ketchum 23.0
8 Manning Selvage & Lee 22.8
9 Edelman 18.3
10 TSI Communications 15.9
*estimated, seven-month total Based on PRWeek Top 200 1998 PR income