"We have repeatedly noticed that our agency was not invited for presentations because we lacked an international network," said Holger Uhlhorn, managing director-international at Springer & Jacoby. "We are in talks with at least three agencies. We have not decided yet whether we will sell shares, buy into a network or form a holding company with another privately owned agency [to] set up our own network."
The deal would link Springer and its lone office in Hamburg, with Ayer Europe's shops throughout western Europe.
Ayer Europe's biggest clients are Volkswagen's SEAT division and Beiersdorf, marketer of the Nivea skincare line.
Beiersdorf has already been consulted and has no objections to an Ayer Europe linkup with Springer, said Peter Nebel, Beiersdorf's spokesman.
SEAT is a potential conflict with Springer's Mercedes-Benz business, but the two auto marketers are in such different price brackets that they may agree to co-exist. Ayer Europe did not return phone calls but agency executives familiar with the network confirmed it is being shopped around. They said conflict is a major problem in finding a buyer because most international networks have a car account. Bozell Worldwide, for example, is looking to buy other agencies but said the SEAT business, a conflict with Bozell's largest client, Chrysler Corp., rules out Ayer Europe.
Springer, Germany's ninth largest agency with billings of $312 million, is more than twice the size of Ayer Europe's German agency, ranked No. 22 with billings of $124 million.
Besides Mercedes, clients include Deutsche Telekom's mobile phone division DeTeMobil and mail order house Quelle.
Ayer Europe is Europe's 18th largest network, with billings of $520 million.