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Butler, Shine Buys SF Interactive

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NEW YORK Butler, Shine & Stern has purchased SF Interactive for an undisclosed sum, the agencies confirmed.

The San Francisco-based interactive agency, which claims capitalized billings of $30 million from clients like Weider Publications and Cisco Systems, will retain its name, but will share a profit-and-loss center and office space with Butler, Shine in Sausalito, Calif.

"Our competition has gone from being shops like Lot 21 to ones affiliated with multinationals like [Grey Global Group's] Beyond Interactive and [Interpublic Group's] Universal McCann," said SF Interactive CEO and president Bruce Carlisle, who has an undisclosed stake in the combined company. "That makes it imperative to have an offline offering."

While SF Interactive and Butler, Shine will continue to pursue business separately, the two shops will team up for new and existing accounts when appropriate. Butler, Shine already operates in a similar fashion with its design arm, Pena Brand.

Carlisle, 45, becomes president of the newly renamed company, Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners. Former president Greg Stern, 42, assumes the title of CEO. Both worked together about 20 years ago at Ogilvy & Mather in New York on the American Express account.

The purchase gives the agency "the opportunity to marry our creative product with the accountability that an interactive marketing services company brings," said Stern, who added that no layoffs are expected as a result of the acquisition. SF Interactive has 35 staffers; Butler, Shine has 40 employees and estimated billings of $45 million.

Butler, Shine has partnered with SF Interactive in the past on new-business pitches and online projects for clients like Anchor Blue clothing stores and Ubi Soft Entertainment video games.

The purchase comes nearly 18 months after a deal between SF Interactive and Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos was called off.