Small ad agency sold, WPP was interested

LONDON - As expected, WPP Group has bought the small US advertising agency Berlin Cameron & Partners, which will become the New York City office and headquarters of WPP's Red Cell network.

WPP was first reported to be interested in the agency following an article in the Wall Street Journal, which carried the headline, "Small ad agency Berlin Cameron up for sale, WPP apparently interested".

The £182.6m-billing agency had revenues of around £14m in 2000 with net assets of around £1m as of December 31 2000.

Berlin Cameron founder Andy Berlin confirmed last week that the agency was in talks with WPP as part of a plan to help the agency expand internationally.

Berlin is now expected to take the chairman's job at Red Cell, WPP's fourth global advertising agency network. Last week, Lee Daley, the former McCann-Erickson chief strategic officer for EMEA, was named as CEO.

Berlin Cameron includes the Coca-Cola Mello Yello and Pibb brands among its clients. Other clients handled by Berlin Cameron include Reebok and General Motors.

The acquisition follows a cull of senior staff at Red Cell's London headquarters two weeks ago, which saw creative director John Trainor, executive creative director Simon Frank and new-business director Michelle Katz all axed. CEO Julian Saunders was asked to step down and take on the role of European strategic planning director.

Red Cell, named after the red blood cells that carry oxygen, was launched in January and combined the strengths of four agencies: Batey Advertising; Cole & Webber; Conquest; and Perspectives.

Sir Martin Sorrell, the WPP CEO, hoped to fill a gap in the market between large advertising agencies and smaller independent shops.

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