New York Independent Is Latest Buy in String of Acquisitions
NEW YORK--Bozell Worldwide has inked a letter of intent to acquire Avrett, Free & Ginsberg.
The deal would provide Bozell with more critical mass while allowing Avrett's clients access to Bozell's $3.1 billion global network and integrated ad capabilities.
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but a deal is expected to close as early as next week. Avrett reported 1997 revenues of around $46 million.
Bozell's acquisition of the $370 million New York shop marks the latest example of consolidation in the industry, which has winnowed the ranks of midsize shops.
Avrett, headed by chairman Frank Ginsberg, will remain intact, keeping its name and staying in its Third Avenue offices. Ginsberg said he expects a "seamless" transition with business to proceed as usual.
The deal was driven by personal and professional motives. "We've been friends for 15 years," said Ginsberg of David Bell, Bozell Worldwide chief executive.
"We share core values," said Bell. "Our ethos is, 'Close to the customer,' which Frank Ginsberg basically invented."
Bell cited Avrett's diverse client base, which includes Ralston-Purina, UDV and Lorillard, as an advantage. He asserted that no conflicts exist between the shops. Bozell's key clients include Chrysler and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Bell said Ginsberg will report to Gene Bartley, president of North America for Bozell, but will have contact with the entire Bozell senior management team.
Ginsberg said he weighed whether to sell the agency or to expand its integrated capabilities to remain competitive. In the end, he decided his shop would gain more from Bozell's resources.
The deal is Bozell's latest move to beef up its network since it was acquired by True North Communications last year for $440 million in stock. Critics said that deal, which put Bozell and Foote, Cone & Belding under one umbrella as separate networks, did not create the comprehensive global reach that was originally intended.
Since then, Bozell has tried to bolster operations through acquisitions and alliances in Russia, Germany and the U.K., as well as the recent purchase of McDougall Associates, a $45 million Boston agency.