TBWA, Beattie Shop End Talks

NEW YORK TBWA and London shop Beattie McGuinness Bungay have abruptly ended talks about a deal that could have spelled the return of Trevor Beattie to TBWA’s London operation.

Omnicom Group’s TBWA had sought to acquire the agency as a means for adding firepower in the U.K market. Such a deal would have given TBWA the “big creative presence” it has lacked in London since Beattie, a former chairman and creative director at TBWA\London, left the agency three years ago to start BMB, a source said last week.

Earlier this week, the discussions had continued, with one source saying they were “far along” and the two sides were “starting just to do due diligence.” But today, TBWA confirmed that the negotiations had ended and issued a joint statement from TBWA president international Keith Smith and BMB co-founder Andrew McGuinness.

“Holding companies and agencies often talk to potential acquisition targets and this is no different, except for the fact that Trevor and Andrew are old friends,” said Smith. “We are concentrating on building our business on the back of the successful new business pitches that TBWA has had in the past three months — National Express and Sony retail.”

Added McGuinness: “We’ll always have a soft spot for TBWA, but this wasn’t the right time for us, our team and our clients at this time.”

Once word of the talks reached the press last week, “it kind of all started to unravel,” said a source. That said, a deal still would have “made perfect sense,” the source added.

Beattie opened his shop in May 2005, with former TBWA\London colleagues McGuinness (who was CEO at TBWA\London) and Bill Bungay (deputy cd).

Agency clients include Ikea, Carling, McCain, Virgin, Wall’s and ING Direct. About a year after Beattie left TBWA\London, the shop hired Steve Henry, co-founder of Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury and international cd of WPP Group’s United in London, as executive cd. Henry, however, left the agency in July.