Interpublic investigates irregularities at media agency

NEW YORK - The Interpublic Group of Companies, already under pressure on a number of accounting issues, is now investigating irregularities at its media agency Brand Connection.

The agency, previously known as MBS Media, has alerted Interpublic accountants.

Senior executives at Brand Connection and Interpublic are conducting an investigation into discrepancies in the agency's accounts. It is not known what effect the alleged activity has had on the financial position of Brand Connection, which was sold to Interpublic 's True North network in 2000 for several million pounds.

The agency is still in the process of establishing the reasons behind it and finding out who was responsible. There is no suggestion that the senior managers at Brand Connection were aware of any problems until recently, when they immediately launched an investigation.

MBS Media's books will have come under close scrutiny when it was sold to True North and then in March 2001 when True North was acquired by Interpublic. However, nothing untoward was spotted.

Interpublic is already investigating an expenses-related accounting discrepancy within the McCann-Erickson European network.

Interpublic relaunched MBS as Brand Connection in March this year as its third European media network. However, its UK billings of £91.1m have yet to be added to the negotiation pool of Magna, the negotiation house that operates on behalf of IPG's other media operations Initiative Media and Universal McCann.

Glenn Burton, the chairman of Brand Connection, refused to comment on the investigation.

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