Fitch Regains Independence From CCG

NEW YORK Cordiant Communications Group can no longer claim ownership of the Ann Arbor, Mich., office of Fitch Worldwide, the new independent renamed re:group confirmed.

The shop made the move to buy itself back after Fitch decided to focus on its branding and design capabilities, said re:group president and CEO Jan Muhleman. Last September, CCG united Fitch, advertising network Bates, marketing services network 141 Worldwide and specialist network Healthworld to create an integrated communications offering. At the time, CCG instructed the four units to concentrate on their individual areas of expertise.

“We believe in the concept of integrated communications and managing every point of interface between a brand and its customer,” said Muhleman, who owns an 80 percent stake in re:group. “We’d rather deliver an integrated offering, than be a part of a large holding company, where there are competing offices.”

Re:group’s minority owners are chief operating officer Carey Jernigan, chief creative director Rhonda Huie and account directors Liz Conlin and Karyn Kozo. “As we go, it is our intention to expand the equity beyond the founding partners,” said Muhleman. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The shop has underwent several changes in ownership since its founding as Group 243 in 1974. It was bought in 1989 by Ross Roy, which in 1995 became a unit of Omnicom Group. In 1996, the Ann Arbor outpost spun itself out from Omnicom and sold itself in January 1997 to Fitch, which was sold to CCG as a part of the Lighthouse deal in 2000.

“It was a wild ride,” said Muhleman, who has been at the shop since its start, adding, “We’re like a bad penny. We just keep showing up.”