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Vodafone Names MEC to Handle $950 Million Global Media Business

Move Comes Amid Rumors AT&T Wants to Buy Vodafone

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Vodafone has handed its massive global media business to WPP's MEC after a competitive pitch.

It's a loss for longtime international incumbent OMD, which participated in the earlier rounds of the review at Vodafone's U.K. headquarters but didn't make it to the finals, according to people familiar with the matter. OMD won Vodafone's global business in 2009. Carat, part of Aegis, and MEC competed in the final round.

The agencies involved either declined to comment or couldn't immediately be reached. A Vodafone spokeswoman wasn't able to immediately comment.

Vodafone spends next to nothing in the U.S., but around the world the telecom giant is a major player. The company spent $950 million on worldwide measured media in 2012, according to the Ad Age DataCenter. That's an 11.2% decrease in measured media spending from 2011. Vodafone spent the majority of its media dollars -- $621 million -- in Europe.

The move comes on the heels of Vodafone's $10 billion acquisition of Spanish cable company Grupo Corporativo Ono and as rumors continue to spread that AT&T wants to acquire Vodafone.

For MEC, which hasn't won a large account like Vodafone in a long time, it's a boon.

AT&T is also a top MEC client, but the Atlantic Ocean likely sufficiently separates what could be a massive conflict. While AT&T operates in the U.S., Vodafone exists primarily outside the U.S.

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