True North buys MBS in media network rethink

True North has acquired MBS, the largest remaining UK media independent, and is poised to sell its stake in BJK&E to the agency's other joint shareholder, Tempus Group.

It is believed that Tempus will keep BJK&E as a separate agency and will seek to build it into a robust second-string network.

While True North's UK creative agency, Banks Hoggins O'Shea/FCB, will retain its media planning in-house, its media buying will be pooled into MBS, which has billings of around pounds 82 million.

Glenn Burton, the chairman of MBS, will report to TN Media in the US and will work closely with Jonathan Stirling, Banks Hoggins' head of media.

MBS will move offices to be closer to those of Banks Hoggins.

The acquisition of MBS and its specialist arm Expert Media underlines True North's drive to beef up its media offering. John Banks, the chairman of Banks Hoggins, said: 'This is phase one in an evolutionary plan to give us a network of media operations in Europe. We are looking at a number of media independents and we'd like to complete that within six months.'

Banks added that True North is looking to buy media agencies in France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

David Bell, the chairman and chief executive of True North, said: 'This agreement is consistent with our commitment to growing our media brand and further expanding FCB in Europe. MBS is a media services brand of the highest quality and its addition strengthens our global media capabilities.'

Commenting on the decision to sell to True North, Burton said: 'As a UK operation, when it came to global pitches we got left off the list. We've grown a lot but we got to the point where we were too big to carry on as we are.'

MBS's key accounts include Norwich Union, Allied Carpets, Michelin Tyres and Bendicks of Mayfair.