McKinney & Silver Sold to Havas

Havas Advertising has reached an agreement to purchase McKinney & Silver.

“There’s nothing official,” said agency director of communications Janet Northern. But sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that Paris-based Havas successfully concluded negotiations with marchFirst, the Raleigh, N.C., agency’s troubled parent.

Ed Eskandarian, a Havas board member and CEO of the French company’s Boston-based Arnold advertising network, was point man in the talks, along with McKinney president and CEO Don Maurer.

A purchase price has not been disclosed, but sources suggested $20-25 million would represent fair market value, based on McKinney’s $26 million in revenue last year. The price may have been lower, observers said, given marchFirst’s need for ready cash and Eskandarian’s reputation for driving a tough bargain.

McKinney will remain a separate entity under Havas’ umbrella. It is not known if the shop will report directly to Havas or through Eskandarian.

At press time, neither Eskandarian nor Havas North America executive vice president R. John Cooper returned calls.

McKinney had been shopped to other networks, including Toronto-based MDC Communications’ Maxx-com. The Arnold-brokered deal, however, provided the best synergies: Volkswagen of America is Arnold’s flagship account; McKinney has Audi. Maurer’s relationship with Eskandarian dates back to his client-side days as a senior vp at Timberland.