Cordiant sells Bates Australia shares to executives

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SYDNEY -- Cordiant Plc is to sell back 24.9% of George Patterson Bates, Australia's largest advertising agency, to key senior executives for an undisclosed amount, but will retain 75.1% control.

The buyback will be finalized January 14 when 35 executives from George Patterson Bates and its wholly-owned subsidiary The Campaign Palace meet in Sydney for their first shareholders' meeting.

Alex Hamill, Australian chairman and chief executive of the group, said 25 George Patterson Bates executives and 10 Palace executives would receive shares. The size of the stake offered each shareholder, who must sell upon leaving, varies. Hamill would not give details.

The George Patterson Bates buyback means the group can offer shares to keep or attract key executives, putting it on a similar footing to Clemenger BBDO, the country's second largest agency, which has a 53.3% local shareholding spread among 300 staff.

Last year George Patterson Bates reported gross income of $67m from billings of $385m. It has 534 employees. The Palace, staff of 89, reported gross income of $19m from $105m in billings.

Copyright February 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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