24 May, 1996
The Abbott Mead Vickers group is to buy Pattison Horswell Durden in a
move that will create a top-five media brand in the UK to be called New
Abbott Mead is thought to be paying around pounds 5 million for the
company on an earn-out basis, with the three partners - David Pattison,
Nick Horswell and Jonathan Durden - tied in a for a minimum of five
John Ayling’s 20 per cent share of PHD will be sold to Abbott Mead as
part of the agreement.
The new company will have billings of around pounds 260 million. New PHD
will also incorporate the pounds 20 million TV buying for Leagas
Delaney, which Abbott Mead took on earlier this year.
Clients are already understood to have been informed about the move and
there is only one major conflict: PHD handles Lil-lets while Abbott Mead
works with Tampax. Discussions with these two clients are thought to
centre on the benefits of category specialisation.
As part of the deal, Abbott Mead will relinquish all in-house media
functions and its media department will move into PHD’s offices.
Ken New, currently vice-chairman of Abbott Mead, will become chairman of
the new operation, with Pattison, Horswell and Durden running the
company with him.
Senior roles will be found for all Abbott Mead and PHD top people,
including Abbott Mead’s media director, Alan Brydon. No redundancies are
The rationale behind the merger is the recognition of the need for scale
in the media market. Both PHD and Abbott Mead have built solid media
reputations for their creative thinking and innovative approach, but
neither had the bulk to match major media players such as Zenith Media
or TMD Carat.
The idea is that New PHD will combine creativity with a well-resourced
media operation more able to match the might of the media owners.
No-one at either Abbott Mead or PHD would comment on the deal.