Bozell, TN Continue Their Talks

By Scott Hume and Michael McCarthy

CHICAGO–True North Communications and Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon & Eckhardt could strike their long-awaited deal this week, sources said.

TN’s board of directors Friday held what insiders said was a ‘purely informational’ meeting.

No decision on TN’s acquisition of Bozell was expected to be made during that meeting, and sources said no letter of intent between the two parties has been signed. But an announcement of a deal could come as early as this week, sources said. A TN representative said only that discussions with Bozell continue, but that there was ‘no new news to report.’

Sources said discussions involving Omnicom Group have cooled.

Talks between the two agency networks have focused on organizational issues, including the post-merger executive alignment. One solution believed to have been discussed is giving of co-chief executive officer status to TN chairman Bruce Mason and BJK&E chief executive Chuck Peebler.

The automotive conflict also remains a sticking point for a TN-Bozell union. TN negotiators have sought a reduction in Bozell’s purchase price–said to be $300-400 million–as compensation for TN resigning the $240 million Mazda Motor Corp. account if they merge, sources said. The key Bozell client is Chrysler Corp., which has made it known it would not co-exist on a roster with Mazda, controlled by Detroit rival Ford Motor Co.

BJK&E said to have assured Chrysler that no deal would be made until discussions between the automaker and TN could be held.

–with Tanya Gazdik and Hank Kim

Copyright ASM Communications, Inc. (1997) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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