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Initiative Expected to Add FCB

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Initiative Media Worldwide is expected to pick up buying duties for FCB following The Interpublic Group of Cos. acquisition of True North.

The FCB liaison, which will include the absorption of FCB sister TN Media into Initiative, will make IPG's media network the largest buyer in America. The move will bring in an estimated $5 billion, pushing Initiative to more than $10 billion in domestic billings. That vaults it past the top shop, WPP's MindShare, which claims about $8 billion in U.S. business.

Under the proposed plan, Initiative will forge similar unions with agencies that fall under The Partnership, a worldwide network IPG is forming that will house $40 billion in marketing-communications re-sources. Media planning and buying for IPG's McCann-Erickson World Group will be handled separately by Universal McCann, which bills $5.8 billion here.

Lou Schultz, Initiative Media Worldwide CEO, is expected to lead IPG's media operations for both the FCB and Partnership groups, sources said. Schultz declined to comment, as did executives at TN Media and FCB. John Dooner, IPG CEO, was unavailable.

Under the "Initiative Media at FCB" model, as it is tentatively called, Initiative will place in-house buying teams at FCB, and will provide strategic support, research and other tools. Strategic media planning remains at FCB. The structure parallels, but expands upon, the recent creation of "Initiative Media at Deutsch," in which that IPG shop is partnered with Initiative on national broadcast buying for its clients.

The "Initiative Media at" model is the blueprint IPG hopes to use to provide media support for its Partnership agencies as well, including Lowe Lintas & Partners. "If [the restructuring] goes the way the game plan is set, that's the way it would work," said one source.

Meanwhile, personnel shifts have begun as IPG's media plans evolve. Last week, Joe Studley, Initiative's CFO, left to take the newly created CFO job at The Partnership. He was replaced by Lowe Group CFO Suzanne Gilbert. And Joel Kushins, TN Media evp and general manager, resigned two weeks ago.