MPG strengthens its offering in Germany by purchasing SMA

Media Planning Group has acquired the privately owned German agency Schmitter Media Agentur as it signals a preference for piecemeal international growth following the failure of Havas' bid for Tempus.

The deal, a price for which has not been made public, will dampen speculation that Havas is preparing a bid for Aegis, the owner of the Carat media network.

"This was one of our short-term priorities and it has been accomplished. We will now continue to develop and strengthen MPG with the aim of being in the top five by 2003,

Havas' chairman and chief executive, Alain de Pouzilhac, said.

Schmitter will be rebranded as MPG Schmitter Media Agentur, giving the MPG network a branded outpost on German soil for the first time. Schmitter's billings of more than 300 million euros, which places it in the German top ten, will be augmented by the spend of MPG international accounts previously handled in Germany through alliances with CIA and The Media Edge. Last May, MPG lost its £50 million contract to handle UK media buying for The Media Edge after a reorganisation by WPP.

The lack of a branded presence across all European territories has been seen as a serious handicap for MPG in recent pan-continental pitches. The agency failed to pick up the TotalFinaElf business and lost out to OMD over the lion's share of the PSA account last year.

"It removes a potential obstacle for some clients,

MPG's head of global operations, Bob Offen, said. "There have been a few occasions when we haven't got the business of clients who were big in Germany."


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