London's Tempus Group PLC this week is expected to acquire CPM here as part of its plan to expand its media buying network in the U.S.
The deal will make CPM, which places $200 million in media annually, part of the global company's CIA Medianetwork. CIA VSM's chief executive officer estimated the purchase price at $5-10 million.
"We need to get to a real critical mass in this country, and the acquisition of CPM does a lot to get us there," said Tom Sassos, who is spearheading Tempus' aggressive acquisition strategy in the U.S.
Sassos became CIA VSM Media's CEO after selling his New York-based VSM Media to Tempus last September. The shop, with roughly $300 million in billings, was the first U.S. unit of the CIA Medianetwork.
"At $500 million [in combined billings], we offer anything anyone in the business offers their clients," Sassos said. "Our next stage is to be in the top 10 [of media buyers.]"
Sassos aims to build a $1.3 billion enterprise by the middle of 2000. He declined to identify other acquisition targets, saying no other partnerships are imminent.
CPM, founded 30 years ago, will become CIA CPM. It will be led by current company president Marge Navolio.
"CPM will continue to function as it is," Navolio said. "I really like to look at this as an enhancement rather than a change."
Even with $5 billion in global billings, CIA Medianetwork will face larger competition in the U.S., including the WPP Group's Mindshare, which, with its entrance into the country last week, boasts worldwide billings of $16 billion.
"There are the Goliaths and the mini-Goliaths," Navolio said. "There's always room for both."