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Founder of Largest U

Founder of Largest U.S. Media Indie Confirms Multiple Talks
NEW YORK–DeWitt Media, one of the largest independent media agencies in the U.S., is in negotia-
tions with several suitors. A deal is expected to be announced shortly.
Talks appear to be most serious with Publicis S.A., the French holding company that purchased Minneapolis-based Fallon McElligott for about $120 million last month. Publicis executives could not be reached on Friday.
DeWitt chairman and CEO Gene DeWitt confirmed he is in negotiations with several media companies. “I have no deal with anybody,” said DeWitt, who opened the agency in 1984. “I am speaking to lots of people. My strategy is to remain the last of the independents.”
In any deal DeWitt inks with a media agency, it is likely that he would remain CEO.
DeWitt said that he has talked with Carat, CIA Medianetwork and Zenith Media Worldwide, among
others, but that no deal has been made with any of them. He would neither confirm nor deny conversations with Publicis.
Jon Perriss, worldwide chairman and CEO of Zenith, confirmed that Zenith talked to DeWitt about a deal last year, but the talks didn’t last long and broke off in December.
A link with DeWitt would give Publicis a U.S.-media toehold. Publicis claims $6.5 billion in global billings, but its media arm, Optimedia, has only moderate clout in Europe and even less in the U.S.
A deal would also bring all the BMW North America accounts under one roof. BMW spent $120 million in U.S. media last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting. Publicis, here, handles the German automaker’s U.S. regional dealership ads; Fallon handles U.S. brand advertising, and DeWitt is the media planning and buying shop for the client in the U.S.
DeWitt claims $350 million in billings from clients including Bacardi USA, The Dreyfus Corp., Land Rover, Hyperion Software, Lexmark and the NBA.
Publicis’ recent U.S. acquisition spree includes the purchase of marketing-services firm Frankel & Co., Chicago, the former EvansGroup, Salt Lake City (now Publicis Dialog), and a 49 percent stake in Burrell Communications, Chicago.
Publicis’ U.S. operation is composed of two networks: Publicis has offices in Chicago, Dallas, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Indianapolis, Boise, Idaho, and San Francisco. Publicis & Hal Riney has offices in San Francisco, Atlanta and New York.