CIA, RNF Media Deal Nears

LOS ANGELES — CIA Media network is in final negotiations to acquire Beverly Hills, Calif.-based RNF Media, sources said. The deal concludes a year-long attempt by New York-based CIA, owned by Britain’s Tempus Group, to establish a West Coast beachhead through acquisition [Adweek, Aug. 28, 2000]. CIA partnered with local shop Janik Associates to pursue May Co.’s media business last year in a review that ultimately went to Doner, Southfield Mich. Had Janik prevailed, CIA would have purchased the agency. Talks with RNF have been ongoing for several months, sources said.

Although RNF claimed billings of about $200 million in 2000, a year in which it increased its billings by at least a third, much of the increase was due to accounts, and it is unclear how much of that business remains. However, the quarter-century old agency, run by president Brian Fernee and vice president Roger Riddell, is considered a “very decent operation,” according to sources. The agency handles several Burger King franchisee groups in the West. The fast food marketer’s parent, Diageo, also owns CIA client Guinness, retail and travel clients and — rare for a West Coast shop — some packaged goods business, notably Sorrells Pickard Gourmet Peanut Butter.

In the U.S., CIA claims estimated billings of about $650 million.

RNF declined to comment on the acquisition talks. CIA was unavailable for comment.