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The Nasdaq Rationale

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One agency's ties to a Nasdaq board member and two others' relatively small size helped them survive the cut last week as Nasdaq narrowed the list of contenders for its $30 million account, sources said.

Still in the running are J. Walter Thompson and Bou chez Kent + Co., both New York, and McKinney & Silver, Raleigh, N.C.

WPP Group-owned JWT came out a finalist partly because it is backed by WPP chief executive and Nasdaq board member Sir Martin Sorrell, sources said. Sorrell, named to the board in January, has been pursuing the business for nearly five years, sources said. "More than sniffing around, he's been overt in his desire to have this account," said one.

Sources said the client prefers a shop that is quick and nimble. McKinney & Silver, which claims billings of $350 million, and Bouchez Kent + Co., a startup formed in Octo ber by two ex-Bozell executives, fit the bill, sources said. JWT claims $4 billion in billings.

The cut from eight shops to three ended the client's 12 years with Mess ner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmet terer/Euro RSCG, which defended the account. According to sources, MVBMS' relationship with the client waned after evp of marketing Denise Benou Stires replaced L. Brian Holland, Nasdaq's longtime marketing director, who hired the shop in 1989.

The New York-based client briefed the finalists last Tuesday on a creative assignment in preparation for pitches in about two weeks. A decision is expected by month's end, sources said.

Grey, Young & Rubicam and Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, all New York, and Arnold, Boston, were the most recent cuts.