Read-Poland acquisition earns GCI Texas presence

AUSTIN, TX: GCI Group last week acquired Read-Poland Associates,

Texas' oldest PR and public affairs firm, for an undisclosed sum.



The acquisition gives GCI a Texas presence for the first time and boosts

its public affairs, crisis communications, technology and energy

industry capabilities.



Before inking the deal, R-P joined with GCI to pitch the Industrial

Development Board for Northern Ireland. And R-P's Dallas office ran a

regional program for GCI's new federal Health Care Financing

Administration (Medicare) job.



The newly merged agency, which will be known as GCI Read-Poland, was

ultimately awarded both accounts, reportedly worth seven figures

each.



The merger was announced by R-P chairman and founder Julian Read during

his firm's 50th anniversary reception in Austin last Monday. Read and

Jeff Hunt, R-P president and CEO, will retain their titles in the new

agency.



The deal hinged on Hunt, an R-P protege, who came home to Austin in

December from London. GCI Group president and CEO Bob Feldman had hired

Hunt as an intern at Burson-Marsteller in 1984.



'For the three of us (Read, Hunt and Feldman) and our respective firms

to come together is a dream come true,' Feldman told the crowd of Texas

VIPs assembled for the anniversary gathering. Feldman also stressed the

value of Hunt's international experience in Europe, Asia and South

America.



Neither firm would discuss acquisition terms, although GCI is known for

cash transactions as opposed to equity swaps.



R-P posted dollars 2.2 million in revenue last year and employs 23 in

Austin, Dallas, Houston and Washington, DC. Moves made under Hunt

include the recent creation of a technology practice led by former

Alexander Ogilvy executive Don Bartholomew. Feldman said GCI plans to

expand R-P's staff and client portfolio while striving to maintain the

agency's integrity.



R-P clients include Pulse, MGM Mirage, Bell Helicopter Textron and the

Association of Tennis Professionals Tour.



R-P's golden anniversary gathering was emceed by former congressman Tom

Loeffler and included tributes by former US House speaker Jim Wright,

and George Christian, press secretary for former president Lyndon

Johnson. Harold Burson and former Texas governor Ann Richards sent

videotaped greetings, and R-P executives gave their New York partners

black cowboy boots and Texas flags.



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