Lowe Bell parent company Chime Communications is planning to move
into advertising with the acquisition of a major UK independent.
It is thought the company is talking to at least one ad agency within
the top 30 as part of an ambitious plan to at least double the size of
Bell has previously ruled out a deal with M&C Saatchi - the largest
UK-based independent. Others within the top 30 are: Bartle Bogle
Hegarty; HHCL and Partners; BDH Advertising and Butler Lutos Sutton
The news comes at a time of feverish corporate activity for Lowe Bell
which is also understood to be taking a small stake in US investor
relations firm the Torrenzano Group.
Alan Capper, former chairman of the Rowland Company, who has acted as
Lowe Bell’s representative in the US since 1995, confirmed that
arrangement had ended. ’Torrenzano will be the flag carrier for Lowe
Bell in the US from now on,’ he told PR Week.
Other areas in which it is interested in expanding in the UK include
sports and entertainment public relations and strategic consultancy.
Chairman Sir Tim Bell revealed in March that he was ’actively looking to
acquire another well-known brand’ and indicated he would look outside
the PR industry. He declined to comment on his acquisition plans when
approached this week.
Buying a major ad agency would allow Bell to kill several birds with one
stone. It would extend the range of services the group can offer, add to
its senior management and provide another focus for attention besides
A major acquisition could offer a way out of the company’s disappointing
share performance. Market watchers suggest Chime needs to at least
double its market capitalisation of pounds 22 million, if it is to gain
a stronger following. The higher rating of advertising agency stocks
compared to PR agencies is an added attraction.
Meanwhile Lowe Bell has dealt a blow to the prospects of a deal with its
long-time Brussels associate, Adamson Associates, by signing up with
independent public affairs group, European Public Policy Advisers.