Officials of McCann-Erickson here confirmed last week that parent Interpublic Group of Cos. in New York had signed a letter of intent to purchase Fitzgerald & Co., also in Atlanta.
Both parties said they expected the due diligence period to be completed quickly, and the acquisition is set to close by year's end. Dave Fitzgerald declined to disclose details of the sale, other than to say he was receiving Interpublic stock in exchange for the agency he founded almost 14 years ago.
The combined entity, with $150 million in billings, will operate under the Fitzgerald aegis, meaning that upon the completion of the deal, the McCann-Erickson name will disappear from the Atlanta ad landscape. McCann executive vice president and general manager Clisby Clarke will assume the title of chairman and remain through 1998, helping with the transition. Clarke recently celebrated his 25th anniversary as head of the Atlanta office. Fitzgerald, who will be president and chief executive officer, said he has committed to at least five years at the firm.
The two executives, however, sidestepped the question of who would lead the creative department: McCann senior vice president and executive creative director Bob Summers or Fitzgerald senior vice president and creative director Jim Paddock? That situation is expected to be settled this week, Fitzgerald said.
Clarke and Fitzgerald said they did not anticipate layoffs, and both have left several positions open at their respective agencies during the negotiation period leading up to last week's announcement. Because there are no client conflicts, the two said they do not expect any account defections.
"We're finally at the right size," Fitzgerald said last week. "We're at $60 million, but a $10 million account sometimes feels funny at a $60 million shop. Now we can get the attention of larger accounts."