BBH strikes global deal with Burnetts

Bartle Bogle Hegarty has struck a surprise deal with the Leo Burnett Company which involves selling up to 49 per cent of the agency to the US-based network. It provides BBH with a global media partner.

Bartle Bogle Hegarty has struck a surprise deal with the Leo

Burnett Company which involves selling up to 49 per cent of the agency

to the US-based network. It provides BBH with a global media

partner.



The move ends years of speculation over the future of BBH, ensures that

the agency’s three founders will stay in place for the foreseeable

future and that the agency will remain an independent company in

perpetuity.



BBH and Leo Burnett will continue to operate as separate businesses,

apart from in the media area where Motive, BBH’s media operation, will

be responsible for international strategic planning for BBH clients, but

Leo Burnett will handle buying on a market-by-market basis.



BBH plans to establish Motive in the Asia-Pacific region next year. A

question mark remains over both agencies’ media arrangements in the UK,

although their media interests are likely to be merged. There is no news

on who will take the top job if a merger takes place.



Leo Burnett has 83 offices in 72 countries and has billings of about

dollars 6 billion. BBH, which was founded in 1982, has offices in London

and Singapore and plans to open in the US next year, where it is

currently pitching for the dollars 80 million Levi’s account.



Neither side has issued financial details, but the deal will involve a

financial windfall for BBH shareholders - there are ’about 40’ - as well

as some long-serving employees who are not shareholders.



In a joint statement to BBH staff and clients issued on Wednesday, BBH’s

founders John Bartle, Nigel Bogle and John Hegarty, said: ’We wanted a

partner who could provide us with our own global media delivery system

and who could act as a sounding board as we build BBH in Asia Pacific

and open in the US. To make the relationship work, we knew our partner

would have to become a shareholder in BBH.’



Jeff Fergus, the president of the European and Asia-Pacific division of

Leo Burnett, commented: ’BBH satisfied our strategic desire to team up

with another agency that was interested in global expansion without

building a multi-country structure similar to ours. We did not want to

marry our twin.’



Full story, p2.



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