CHI engineers £30 million WPP coup

Agency 'does a BBH' and retains its independence, while securing estimated £30m in upfront cash deal with Sorrell's WPP.

When Sir Martin Sorrell read in Campaign that the Havas chairman, Vincent Bollore, was waving his chequebook in front of Clemmow Hornby Inge, the WPP chief executive immediately picked up the phone to Johnny Hornby.

Two months later, the deal is done. Sorrell got his men and Havas was left empty-handed. Clemmow Hornby Inge & Partners, as it is to be known, is now 49.9 per cent owned by WPP. The remaining 50.1 per cent will be placed in an employee benefit trust, owned by the agency's partners.

The cash deal is rumoured to have involved a sum in the region of £30 million upfront, and has turned Hornby and his co-founders Simon Clemmow and Charles Inge into multi-millionaires.

Hornby said: "WPP has the best array of digital and media buying talent and clout in the world, and to be in partnership is a great opportunity."

Sorrell added: "WPP is delighted to form a partnership with CHI. The proposed structure will give CHI the chance to capitalise on WPP's resources, while keeping its independence."

The deal brings to an end an extensive courtship period with Havas, which began in Cannes last year, where early talks were brokered by Long Acre between Hornby, Bollore and the Euro RSCG global chief executive, David Jones. The Japanese giant Dentsu is also thought to have held talks. In contrast, the WPP deal has taken a matter of weeks to reach its conclusion.

CHI & Partners will operate as an independent agency within WPP; it will not be the London office of WPP's beleaguered United Network.

But the move will allow CHI to extend its international reach for a number of key accounts, including its founding client, the Carphone Warehouse, and Toyota.

Under the deal, Hall Moore CHI and Naked Inside will be fully integrated into CHI & Partners, and will lose their individual brands. CHI & Partners will also offer full-service media planning and buying, "powered" by WPP's Group M where necessary.

CHI was founded in May 2001 and now employs a staff of 151. Revenues for the year ending 30 June 2006 were £18.5 million.

- Perspective, page 25

- Comment, page 44


- WPP pays £30m for 49.9 per cent of CHI

- CHI partners share remaining 50.1 per cent

- CHI to retain independent status

- CHI to tap WPP's global scale and media assets.