WPP takes stake in HHCL

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[london] WPP Group bought 49% of HHCL & Partners, a once-hot London agency that has been losing clients and staff, to merge with the tiny London office of WPP's fourth agency network Red Cell. WPP has agreed to pay heavily indebted Chime Communications $5.6 million for the 49% stake plus $800,000 if HHCL hits certain financial targets by Dec. 31. WPP also has an option to buy the remaining 51% for up to $19 million. Red Cell Chief Executive Lee Daley will be chairman of HHCL/Red Cell in London. Axel Chaldecott, a founding partner of the agency originally called Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury, has quit, leaving Creative Director Steve Henry as the only remaining founding partner. Red Cell's managing director, Nick Kerr, has left. In the last year, Red Cell has bought Berlin Cameron, New York, Les Ouvriers du Paradis, Paris, and consumer-insights consultancy HeadlightVision, London. Red Cell's clients include Singapore Airlines, Diageo and Nike.
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