DDB NEEDHAM TAKES MAJORITY INTEREST IN BRAZIL HOT SHOP DM9: BIGGEST BUY FOR AGENCY NETWORK IN OVER 10 YEARS

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In its biggest acquisition in more than 10 years, DDB Needham Worldwide is buying a 60% interest in one of Brazil's most creative agencies, DM9 in Sao Paulo.

"This is an area that is very important to us, and we are making a major commitment to it," Daryl Lindberg, president of DDB South America, said of the move in Brazil, the world's fifth-largest ad market. "This is probably the biggest thing our network has done in a long, long time."

BRAZIL'S NO. 7 AGENCY

The 8-year-old Brazilian agency had 1996 billings of $210 million. Brazil's seventh-largest ad agency, DM9 has built a network of non-equity affiliates in Latin America.

Mr. Lindberg declined to disclose the agency purchase price.

"Large, really great agencies [that] are still independent don't grow on trees," said Mr. Lindberg, adding that DM9 "really wanted to be part of our network because of the resources we bring in such areas as media."

"This deal was only made after I was assured absolute freedom to continue doing my work," said Nizan Guanaeas, president, DM9. "I talked with the other agencies that have been purchased by DDB and they reassured me that I would have the independence."

He added that the deal helps DM9 clients to develop their business internationally.

In buying DM9, DDB Needham is seeking to sever links with DDB Brazil. DDB Needham owns that agency after buying back a 50% interest from management three years ago; it now has offered local managers equity positions.

MIGHT MERGE SHOPS

DDB Brazil, the country's 20th largest agency, has billings of $51 million and handles multinational clients including Johnson & Johnson, American Airlines and Brazil's Banco Real. DM9's roster includes British-American Tobacco; Philip Morris International; Schering-Plough Corp.; Levi Strauss & Co.; and Italian dairy marketer Parmalat, DM9's first regional client in Latin America.

DM9 was the first Brazilian agency to win a Grand Prix at the Cannes International Advertising Festival. That award, three years ago, was for a print and poster campaign for diet Guarana.

Contributing: Laurel Wentz.

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