Editorial: Snapping up the choicest morsels

On current form, 1997 is shaping up to be a vintage year for acquisitions.

On current form, 1997 is shaping up to be a vintage year for


Charles Barker, sold this week to Bozell Sawyer Miller, is the latest in a

string of consultancies to go under the hammer.

With the erosion of the dominance of advertising, the giant ad agency

groups are muscling into the PR sector with a view to broadening their

appeal. Meanwhile the top worldwide PR groups are bolstering their global

offering in order to go after the big money in long term relationships

with multinational clients.

At over pounds 10.5 million, Charles Barker has not sold itself short and

BSM willingly admits to paying a premium for an agency that meshes so

neatly with its own strengths - as well as its international


It is, by any reckoning, a good deal. But the news will inevitably spark

memories of the company’s rise from the ashes of its former parent in 1992

- although the only Corporate Communications director to transfer to the

new company, Angela Heylin, was exonerated of any wrongdoing, and many

former creditors have continued to do a lot of business with Charles


If there is any cause for complaint it concerns the low price the MBO team

paid, and the swiftness of the sale which did not allow other potential

bidders a look in. Those decisions lay squarely with the receivers.

Even with this headstart, there can be little doubt that the new Charles

Barker has thrived since its rebirth. The management team’s reward from

the sale should properly be seen in the context of those five years. But

it will undoubtedly rankle with some.

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