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Horizon Adds Catalyst Clients

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LOS ANGELES -- In a deal that dissolves one of the oldest independent media agencies in the country, Horizon Media has agreed to pick up the media buying and planning accounts of Catalyst's 15 clients, a deal Bill Koenigsberg, Horizon CEO, estimates will add $70 million in billings to his $800 million-in-billings shop.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed but the agreement is limited to the account transfers only; Horizon is not picking up any of Catalyst's physical operations or systems.

Catalyst clients, which Muratore and Koenigsberg said would all move over to Horizon, include Hotjobs.com, Bennigan's restaurants, Midway Entertainment, La Victoria Foods, and Armstrong Garden Centers, among others. Under the terms of the agreement, Frank Muratore, Catalyst president and CEO, will work with Horizon in a consulting capacity, but the Catalyst brand will disappear. "We are getting out of the media business," Muratore said.

Koenigsberg said that about 10 of Catalyst's 30-plus staff will join Horizon on both coasts. Catalyst has offices in New York and L.A.

Catalyst, which was founded in 1960 as RDR Associates, renamed Time Buying Services and then TBS Media Management before taking on its current name in March, was a $400 million agency at its zenith. But the growth of giant international media networks crippled its ability to compete, and the company began to lose business it could not replace. The biggest blow came last year, when the shop lost its flagship, $80 million Radio Shack account to Carat.

"We were having trouble competing with the larger players," said Muratore. "But Horizon offers many synergies; they're entrepreneurial, as we are. They're a good group."