Blau Sells Direct Response Shop, Will Remain On Board As Adviser

Barry Blau & Partners, a direct marketing agency with more than $485 million in billings, has agreed to be acquired by Snyder Communications in Bethesda, Md.
Snyder paid $72 million for the Wilton, Conn.-based shop, confirmed Clay Perfall, Snyder’s chief financial officer. Blau, which last year ranked as the nation’s fifth largest direct response agency in terms of overall billings, had been entertaining acquisition offers for some time.
“We got to a point where we needed and could benefit from added capital to fund growth,” said Blau president Dennis Eastham. “This [sale] was the best option.”
Chairman and chief executive officer Barry Blau, who founded the eponymous agency in 1978, has signed a two-year employment contract with Snyder and will remain with the agency as an adviser, though his title has not been determined, Perfall said. Day-to-day operations at Blau will continue to be managed by Eastham, Perfall added.
The deal, expected to close later this month, gives Snyder entry into high-technology and other niches in which Blau is especially strong, Perfall said. “We have very complimentary client lists,” and there are no roster conflicts, Perfall said. Blau’s accounts include IBM, MCI and United Parcel Service.
Blau is expected to keep its name, and its service offices–including outposts in New York, Chicago and Towson, Md.–likely will remain open, Perfall said. None of Blau’s 350 or so employees are expected to lose their jobs, Perfall said.

Snyder plans to use Blau to provide creative and strategic development to many of its clients, as well as for database management and mail services, Perfall said.
Snyder works mainly for pharmaceutical and telecommunications firms; its largest clients include GTE, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Procter & Gamble, and Astra Pharmaceuticals.
Snyder, a publicly traded direct marketing, database and list management conglomerate, has made nine acquisitions during the past year. Prior to the proposed buyout of Blau, Synder’s recent purchases include United Kingdom companies Bounty Group Holdings, a product sampling firm, and Brann Holdings, a direct marketing and database shop.

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