BBDO takes stronger hold in South African agency

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JOHANNESBURG -- BBDO has expanded its interests in South Africa by doubling its stake in Gitam International, an offshoot of Israel's biggest agency, to 45%. The shop will now be branded Gitam/BBDO.

BBDO has bought out Gitam of Israel with this purchase. Another 45% of the South African agency is held by Moribo Investments, a vehicle for black investors, and 10% by local management.

The move is seen as strategically important ahead of Gitam's pitch next week for the $5 million South African Airways account, for which eight agencies are gunning. Other contenders for the business are TBWA Hunt Lascaris, Saatchi & Saatchi, Lindsay Smithers-FCB, incumbent Sonnenberg Murphy Leo Burnett, Herdbuoys McCann International, BLGK (a Bates-owned agency) and The Agency, a non-aligned local shop.

Gitam opened in South Africa five years ago under an Israeli immigrant, Yossi Schwartz, and by last year, grossed-up billings had grown to $19 million. Several new account gains during 1997 have boosted the business by up to 40%.

BBDO already has a stake in another South African agency, Berry Bush BBDO of Cape Town.

Copyright November 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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