Agency.com in talks to acquire stakes in 2 shops

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Interactive shop Agency.com, New York, is close to acquiring stakes in two Web companies: Spiral Media, New York, and Online Magic, London.

While no deals are signed yet, talks for Agency.com to invest in both Spiral and Online are under way and should finish by the end of June.

EUROPEAN INTEREST

Agency.com is "interested in the European market, and Online Magic turned out to be the best shop there," said Chan Suh, co-founder and principal of the 97-person Agency.com.

Agency.com is itself part-owned by Omnicom Group, which earlier this year formed a holding company called Communicade to manage its investments in new-media companies.

Omnicom's DDB Needham Worldwide already owns a stake in Online Magic, which has a staff of 40 in London as well as a 20-person New York operation. Its clients include U.K. drugstore chain Boots. Agency.com has a London office that primarily services British Airways.

RETAIN AUTONOMY

Two-year-old Spiral, with billings of about $4 million and a staff of 25, has clients including Reuters New Media, a unit of the London-based parent, and AT&T Corp.'s WorldNet.

Spiral President-CEO Art Williams said if the deals happen, the three agencies will retain their autonomy.

"We have a strong creative group and technical background," he said. "We complement the strengths at Agency.com."

Copyright June 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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