Y&R Moving to Purchase UniWorld

Young & Rubicam Inc. is close to making an all-cash offer for UniWorld Group that would put the African-American shop into Y&R’s fold alongside Hispanic agency Bravo Group and Asian-American shop Kang & Lee, sources said.
Under one proposal being mulled, UniWorld would retain its name and management–as have Y&R-affiliated ethnic shops–and operate as a separate unit, sources said.
A deal would give the company more firepower to add business from existing clients.
UniWorld here claims $160 million in billings from Pepsi, Burger King and others. It shares Y&R clients AT&T and the U.S. Census Bureau. Last year, it landed three new assignments from Pepsi on Storm, Mountain Dew and the main brand.
UniWorld, with estimated revenues of $18.4 million last year, could fetch as much as $27 million–if Y&R buys it all up front. Last year, it paid The Leap Group $6.8 million for Kang & Lee and YAR Communications’ AT&T business [Adweek, Nov. 16, 1998].
Tom Bell, Y&R’s worldwide chairman and CEO, is believed to be negotiating the deal, which could be completed within weeks, sources said. Bell would say only, “We are very serious about our multicultural marketing initiative We love UniWorld. We think they’re in exactly the right spot.”
UniWorld CEO Byron Lewis and president and chief operating officer Gregory Walker could not be reached by press time.