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More than any other ad holding company, True North Communications has bet its future on technology. With hot shop Modem Media now on board, '97 will be a pivotal year for the company. However, two major uncertainties still loom large.

The cooling market for initial public offerings could cause TN Technologies H0lding to put its IPO plans on indefinite hold, as rival Poppe Tyson did earlier this month. That would lead to distractions and a smaller-than-expected pot of capital.

The bigger challenge is structural. True North cobbled together a bunch of related-but separate-businesses, including Modem, R/GA Interactive and Seattle-based direct marketing agency Cf2GS, to form TN Technologies. Combined, they are the industry's largest interactive agency, but the union could be hampered by turf and ego battles between TN Director Greg Blaine and G.M. O'Connell, the man behind Modem. Stay tuned for this one. It could get juicy.

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