Dentsu, Burnett confirm talks on "strategic alliance"

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Leo Burnett Co. and Tokyo-based Dentsu confirmed today they are discussing a "strategic alliance" under which Dentsu would purchase an unspecified minority stake in Burnett. Talks about a link between the two ad agency giants were first reported in September (AA, Sept. 7).

Burnett said the funds raised from Dentsu would help fund its future acquisition efforts. In a Burnett statement on the talks, no timetable for closing the deal was mentioned.

Burnett Chairman-CEO Richard B. Fizdale said Burnett and Dentsu "are not interested in merging" and are committed to "maintaining separate and distinct agencies." Burnett, he added, also remains committed to staying independent and privately owned.

Dentsu, the world's largest privately held ad agency organization, has said it plans to sell stock to the public for the first time, possibly in 2001, but no firm date has been set. Funds from the stock sale are earmarked to finance a new Dentsu headquarters in Tokyo.

The alliance, Burnett said, would allow Dentsu clients access to a third global agency network in addition to Dentsu itself and Dentsu's existing alliance with Young & Rubicam -- Dentsu, Young & Rubicam Partnerships -- which operates mainly in Asia. In addition to the U.S., Burnett operates a strong network of agencies in all major global regions.

Copyright December 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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