Martin Leads IPG’s Merger List

The Interpublic Group’s merger of Long Haymes Carr and Mullen last week has triggered speculation that the network is considering further consolidation.

The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., sources said, tops the list of shops that could be “reinforced” either through a merger with an existing IPG holding or via an acquisition designed to expand Martin’s geographic scope or depth of service offerings.

Michael Sennott, deputy chairman of The Lowe Group, Martin’s immediate parent within IPG’s corporate structure, acknowledged that Lowe is looking to expand Martin.

Both Sennott and Martin chairman John Adams, however, downplayed suggestions that Martin will be combined with IPG shop Suissa Miller in Los Angeles, which sources pegged as a likely partner forMartin. “That’s not the plot,” Sennott said.

Martin opened a satellite office in San Francisco last year.

“Thus far, there has been been no discussion, no questions raised,no nothing,” insisted Adams.

Like both LHC and Mullen, Martin had a great year creatively but sub-par numbers. Billings remained flat in 2000 at $460 million. New business totaled $73 million versus $68 million in lost accounts.

Another highly placed Lowe Group executive called a Martin-Suissa merger “highly likely … Suissa’s in trouble and [its] numbers have dropped dramatically.”

Martin’s aggressive management, the executive added, has long been on “a quest to be a player in the West.”