INTERPUBLIC THINKS SMALL WITH LATEST AGENCY BUYS

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Interpublic Group of Cos., with fewer big agencies left to gobble up, is feasting contentedly on smaller shops with gourmet reputations.

Last week's announced deal to acquire New York's Angotti, Thomas, Hedge for a combination of cash and stock brought IPG's 1996 tab to three agencies, plus a minority stake in another.

The holding company, bested earlier this year by rival Omnicom Group in bidding for one of the largest remaining independents-Ketchum Communications, Pittsburgh-has yet to make a big acquisition this year.

Eugene Beard, exec VP-chief financial officer, said the company remains interested in many different kinds of acquisitions, large and small, but will go where the deals are.

"We think they are a highly creative agency, with a very smart management team and excellent clients," said Barry Linsky, senior VP-planning and corporate development at IPG.

"They gave us the opportunity to remain independent and autonomous, and to have the ability to reach for Interpublic resources," said Barrie Hedge, agency president, who will remain in place along with the rest of current management.

"We're way too proud of what we have achieved to give up our independence; that was the key to it," Mr. Hedge said.

Angotti will report into IPG's Allied Communications Group, whose president is Richard Villante. Terms of the purchase haven't been disclosed, but observers said the total price probably is in the range of $10 million to $15 million.

INTERNATIONAL REACH

An 11-year-old agency with clients including Saab Cars USA and Fuji Photo Film USA, Angotti had about $150 million in billings last year. Besides access to capital, the most obvious IPG resource is international breadth. But Mr. Hedge said he was more interested in having agency partners in a whole range of communications fields.

In fact, while IPG's smaller agencies haven't made much use of their access to its international networks such as McCann-Erickson Worldwide and Ammirati Puris Lintas, they have on occasion found ways to work together in the U.S.

Last year, for example, the Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., and Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York, joined to pitch and win the U.S. Virgin Islands' combined advertising/public relations account.

With revenues of $2.2 billion last year, Interpublic plans on spending $125 million to $150 million on acquisitions this year. Last year it spent $140 million, up from $100 million the year before.

OTHER BUYS

Two of IPG's recent acquisitions were about the same size as Angotti. Earlier this year, IPG agreed to acquire William Douglas McAdams Inc., New York, a $160 million healthcare agency.

Last fall, it paid about $25 million for Anderson & Lembke, New York and San Francisco, a business-to-business agency with $200 million in billings.

Other '96 buys are Jay Advertising, Rochester, N.Y., with billings of $25 million, and a minority stake in Accentmarketing, a Hispanic agency in Miami.

IPG said it will sell one of its '95 purchases, a 50% stake in game-show producer Mark Goodson Productions, for $25 million.

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