GGT confirms it's in talks with potential buyers

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LONDON -- GGT Group, the London-based adagency network that in 1996 bought Paris-based BDDP Group, notified the London StockExchange on Jan. 26 that it's in discussionsthat could lead to GGT's acquisition. A spokes-man for the world's 15th largest ad agency net-work declined to say if the company is in talkswith more than one suitor or to make any comment.

The Times newspaper reported on Monday thatthe Omnicom Group--the holding company for BBDOWorldwide, DDB Needham Worldwide and TBWA Inter-national--was in talks with GGT.

Omnicom's New York-based Chief Financial OfficerFred Myer says that it is company policy not tocomment on speculative stories. Asked if Omnicomhas any interest in principle to acquiring anotherad agency, Mr. Myer said: "When we've made acqui-sitions in the past few years, they have primarilybeen in marketing services. Two-thirds of the moneywe've spent has been on things like public relationsand direct marketing. That's where the growth hasbeen in the industry. That's where we've spent moneyfor the past two or three years, but I can't commentabout the future.''

In September 1996, GGT took on sizeable debt topay $176 million for BDDP, a network more thantwice its size. BDDP was attractive because of itsimpressive client list and respected managers. TheFrench network, however, was burdened with debtfrom a late 1980s expansion drive.

Last week, New York-based Wells BDDP lost $125million in Procter & Gamble Co. business in the U.S.after two of the agency's senior executives left thecompany. London stock market brokerage PanmureGordon issued an analyst report following the P&Gaccount loss recommending that investors buy stockin the company. The P&G loss "masked significantadvances made elsewhere in the network,'' includinga financial turnaround at GGT's European operationsand a $250 million SouthWestern Bell win at itsTexas agency, GSD&M, according the brokerage'sreport.

Copyright January 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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