Eskandarian refutes WCRS/Partners merger speculation

Ed Eskandarian, the chairman of Arnold Worldwide Partners, has told

Campaign that there will be no merger between the Arnold agencies WCRS

and Partners BDDH.



Speculation had been rising that the two agencies were to merge

following Partners' loss of the Mercedes account, a major barrier to any

merger as WCRS handles BMW.



Eskandarian said: "I want to put these rumours to rest. We have

discussed it, but there is no merger planned between BDDH and WCRS. What

we are trying to do now is examine the best way to structure our

Brann/EHS agencies. We are now one of the top five agency groups in the

UK."



Partners has also lost both the Yell.com and Transport for London

accounts, which has further fuelled the rumours that a merger would

create a stronger agency.



The Arnold Worldwide Partners division of Havas was created a year

ago.



Partners became part of Arnold after its parent company, Snyder, bought

Arnold in 1998. Havas bought Snyder in February 2000.



Separately, Arnold has announced that it is to merge its media

operations into Media Planning Group. From January, Arnold's 175-strong

US media operations, headed by the managing partner, John Gaffney, will

use the name Arnold MPG.



The merger is part of Havas' plans to build a global media presence.



However, it will have no impact in the UK because Arnold has no separate

media offering there.



Fernando Rodes, the global chief executive of Media Planning Group,

said: "The addition of this successful, passionate and talented team

will enhance MPG USA's ability to compete for, and service, a broad

range of clients domestically in the United States and around the world.

We look forward to leveraging these resources to create a corporate

culture for our clients, employees and business partners."



Havas is close to completing a restructuring plan that will result in

the dismantling of its Diversified Agencies Group and the transfer of

its businesses to one of Arnold, Euro RSCG or MPG.



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