BBDO acquires German media giant GFMO

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HAMBURG -- BBDO Worldwide has acquired GFMO, Germany's largest media buying and planning independent not owned by a multinational network. The purchase price of the Hamburg-based agency was not disclosed.

GFMO will continue to operate as an independent media agency and management changes are not planned except that Eduard van Eyk, vice president for Europe of Optimum Media Direction ( OMD), will join GFMO's management team. OMD formed late last year when Omnicom joined the European media buying operations of BBDO and DDB, although BBDO continues to operate Media Direction and DDB runs Optimum Media to avoid client conflicts.

GFMO had 1996 billings of billings $832m and its main clients include Beiersdorf cosmetics, Reemstma cigarettes and Tchibo coffee. It's Germany's fifth biggest media buying independent. With this acquisition BBDO becomes a major player in the German media scene, with total billings of $1.55bn, the same volume that Grey-owned media independent MediaCom handles. In Germany BBDO also owns BBDO Media Team with billings of $450m, while the German office of Media Direction handles $450m. Wiesbaden-based HMS/ Carat still leads the German media buying market, handling billings worth $1.8bn.

Even before the March 6 death of GFMO's owner Dieter Krause, the agency had been in talks with foreign media independents about an alliance so that the agency could service its big German clients in international markets.

GFMO was spun off in June 1996 as the result of a buyout from its parent Debis Marketing Services, which is owned by Stuttgart-based industrial group Daimler-Benz.

Copyright June 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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