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Merger Forms G/F/D/M

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The metamorphosis of the former Asher/Gal & Partners continued last week as the L.A. agency announced it was combining with Zuckerman Fernandes & Partners, a $50 million agency in San Francisco.

The new entity is called G/F/D/M (Gal/Fernandes/Dundore/Mitchell) and claims billings of more than $100 million.

ZF&P chairman Ira Zuckerman, who is scaling back his day-to-day involvement, retains that title. Ken Gal becomes president and CEO of G/F/D/M; Al Fernandes remains president and executive creative director in San Francisco. In L.A., Bruce Dundore is executive creative director, and Leah Mitchell is director of media services.

The acquisition comes as Digital Island, one of ZF&P's larger clients, slashed billings by more than 50 percent. "We're doing this out of protection for ourselves," said Fernandes. "You grow any way you can."

Added Gal: "There's no question that coming together strengthens both organizations."

The move follows the recent departure of Asher/Gal chairman Hal Asher [Adweek, April 2] and the agency's subsequent decision to return to the Italia/Gal name, even though partner Carmen Italia left in 1995.

Gal has a controlling interest in the new entity. While the value of the acquisition was not disclosed, Fernandes said "hardly any money changed hands" and the buyout would occur over a number of years.

No client conflicts occurred as a result of the acquisition, Gal said. A "few" administrative positions may be lost, he added. The combined agency employs roughly 70 people.

It was only a year ago that ZF&P and Marc USA failed to agree on terms for a takeover.