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
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
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.