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Mullen, LHC Merge; Suissa Next?

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The merger last week of Interpublic Group shops Mullen and Long Haymes Carr brought speculation that other IPG holdings could soon be joined—in particular The Martin Agency and Suissa Miller.

Sources said IPG may seek to "reinforce" Martin by expanding its geographic scope or depth of services through an acquisition or a merger with an IPG sister. Sources pegged Suissa Miller, Los Angeles, as a likely partner.

Michael Sennott, deputy chairman of The Lowe Group, Martin's immediate parent within IPG, acknowledged Lowe is looking to grow the Martin operation, but downplayed suggestions that it will be combined with another IPG shop.

Martin last year claimed revenue of $62 million on billings of $410 million; Suissa Miller had revenue of $31 million on billings of $282 million.

Mullen and LHC, meanwhile, was seen as a logical fit, said Sennott. The former has a strong creative reputation and below-the-line resources such as public relations; the latter is known for its retail advertising.

"We'll be able to develop, deliver and create added value for existing clients," said Mullen's Joe Grimaldi, the combined agency's CEO, adding that Mullen will benefit in particular from LHC's media buying expertise. "In addition, we see more opportunity to be a more significant entity and pitch significant pieces of business."

Mullen's Wenham, Mass., and Detroit offices retain their name; LHC in Winston-Salem, N.C., will be renamed Mullen/LHC. The combined agency will have billings of $620 million and more than 500 employees.

Steve Zades, chairman and CEO of LHC, will take an executive position at The Lowe Group, New York, after facilitating the transition. LHC chief creative officer Mylene Pollock and director of account services Peter Mitchell have both been let go.

—with Andrew McMains

and Vincent Coppola