IPG Acquires Media First International

LOS ANGELES–Interpublic Group has acquired New York-based independent media agency Media First International.

The 10 year-old agency, which also has an office in Minneapolis, was founded by former J. Walter Thompson media director Richard Kostyra and has billings in excess of $330 million from clients such as Burger King (for which it handles cable and print media), Northwest Airlines and Cross pens. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but sources said the deal is a non-cash acquisition that involves earn-outs for top Media First executives. Media First shares Northwest and Cross pens with IPG ‘s Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis. Media First will retain its autonomy, but report to IPG vice chairman David Bell, who runs the holding company’s Partnership group of agencies.

Freedom, access to IPG’s global negotiating unit, Magna Global, and the ability to provide for Media First’s 60 staffers were key to the deal, said Kostyra, 61. “For future growth, access to something like Magna is important, plus IPG has unparalleled resources and new research we couldn’t match,” he said. “It allows us to grow while attitudinally staying ‘small’ by continuing to work one on one with clients, and it provides a succession flow so our staff can feel secure.”