Omnicom tipped to buy DC lobby shop with close ties to Bush administration

WASHINGTON - Famously well-connected to the Bush administration, public affairs shop Quinn Gillespie & Associates is becoming serious about getting acquired. And some are pointing to Omnicom as the leader in a field of potential suitors.

After a few years of steadfast independence, the three-year-old government relations firm has turned down a number of acquisition offers during its short existence in the marketplace.

But according to managing director Rick Powell, "We just recently got to the point where there were enough credible organizations contacting us, that we thought we should at least start listening."

Powell declined to share specifics on who is currently courting the firm, but according to National Journal, an inside-the-Beltway political magazine, sources have named Omnicom as a leading contender. AdMedia Partners, a New York-based investment banking firm, has been retained by QGA to help sort through the offers.

Known primarily as a bipartisan lobbying shop, QGA began ramping up its PR function last year with the hiring of Burson-Marsteller's Susan Gorman. At the time, Powell said the company's goal was to have PR account for 30% of the business by 2001. Last week, he estimated the practice was responsible for 25% of the firm's income, up from 20% a year ago.

"We have a couple of PR-only clients now, but we continue to maintain our focus on public affairs," explained Powell. "We don't want to do non-public-affairs-related PR."

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