Omnicom creates UK buying giant

The Omnicom-owned media agencies OMD UK, Manning Gottlieb OMD and PHD Group are pooling their media negotiations to create the UK's largest buying point.

The consolidated buying outfit will be called OPera and has billings in excess of £970 million (according to Nielsen Media Research figures for 2003). It will be run as a joint-venture company, with OMD Group and PHD Group acting as shareholders.

OPera will negotiate across all media, with the exception of outdoor, and for all of the agencies within the two shareholder groups; OMD UK, MG OMD, PHD, PHD Compass, Rocket and PHD Confidential. It will also act as a research resource that both agency groups can tap into.

Marc Bignell, the broadcast director at OMD, and John Overend, PHD's investment director, will run OPera as its joint managing directors.

The PHD press director, Adam Crow, and the OMD director of radio, Jonathan Gillespie, will also move over to the new company. Discussions are still taking place with Tim McCloskey, a managing partner of OMD, about a senior role in the company.

OPera is the brainchild of Nick Manning, the newly appointed chief executive of the OMD UK Group, and Tess Alps, the chairman of PHD.

Manning said: "Our market continues to mature and the opportunity to be number one is not open to everyone. Our marriage of scale and intelligence will set a new standard in the industry, with knowledge and insight the key discriminators beyond price and equality."

The creation of OPera follows WPP's decision to centralise its media buying into Group M at the end of last year.

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