Florida Shop Completes Buyback

Yesawich, Pepperdine & Brown has completed its buyback from parent Panoramic Communications, the troubled holding company that has been rapidly divesting itself of agency properties nationwide.

The Orlando, Fla., agency has also added a partner, John Russell, to the ownership group. The shop will now operate as Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell. Jeb Brown, who served as president and CEO of New York-based Panoramic, also returns to YP&B as an active partner.

Peter Yesawich, president and chief executive of YP&B, declined to say how much it cost to reclaim the agency, which had been sold twice. In 1996, the shop sold a minority interest to Earle Palmer Brown, which was then purchased by Panoramic in 1999.

Current billings for YP&B, whose advertising specialty is hotel, destination and tourism accounts such as Renaissance Hotels, Resort Quest and Universal Studios, are estimated at $130 million. Though financial terms were not disclosed, the buyback might have cost$10-13 million, based on the industry standard agency sales formula of 1-1.5 times revenue.

“We now have regained complete ownership and control of our company,” said Yesawich.

The buyback follows Panoramic’s sale of most of the holdings of Earle Palmer Brown, Bethesda, Md., to Havas’ Arnold a month ago. Arnold last week said it has broken off talks to add clients and staff from EPB’s New York office, which closed two weeks ago.

With Russell on board, Yesawich said he hopes to broaden his agency’s reach into the travel and leisure segment beyond destination accounts.

Russell, a former client, is CEO of Hospitality Artists in Naples, Fla., which he described as a network of 20 senior-level executives representing firms in the travel and conference management fields.

Russell was vice chairman of Cendant Corp.’s travel division and chief executive of that company’s hotel unit, where he guided brands such as Days Inns, Howard Johnson, Super 8 and Travelodge.

“I bring client-side perspective,” Russell said. “Hospitality companies look for clarity and ways to talk to consumers on a frequent basis.”