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D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York, experienced a multitude of changes in 1999: the debut of a new trans-Atlantic management structure, a new identity as just D'Arcy and the absorption of an estimated $100 million in Procter & Gamble Co. accounts from sibling N.W. Ayer & Partners, New York.

However, nothing was as dramatic as the news that came to employees in a middle-of-the-night Nov. 2 memo: DMB&B's parent MacManus Group announced a merger with Leo Group. Tokyo-based Dentsu also would be a part of the deal, taking a 20% stake in the new company.

D'Arcy's newly formed parent company -- tentatively named BDM -- plans to go public this year, prompting some staffers to wonder aloud how they'd benefit financially from the IPO.

Amid the hubbub, DMB&B did manage to reel in some big name clients, including Capital One Financial, Pillsbury Co., Sprint ION, Molson Breweries USA and Pfizer's Relpax. On the losing side, D'Arcy barely was able to digest its Avon Products account consolidation (also from Ayer), before the cosmetics company pulled its account in house. DMB&B's 1999 creative output included the well-regarded repositioning for General Motors Corp.'s Cadillac, but for the most part fell short.

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Observers are waiting to learn D'Arcy's financial secrets when it files for an IPO this year.

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