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(June 1, 2001) DUBLIN -- McConnells, the Dublin-based independent ad agency, has refused to comment on rumors that the agency is the subject of a takeover by Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide, which has also declined to comment.

McConnells, which had billings of $60 million in 2000, is Ireland's biggest full-service marketing communications agency, and one of the few Irish agencies not to have been acquired by international groups.

McConnells' main clients include Eircom, AIB, the National Lottery, Kellogg's, Statoil and Lever Brothers.

The agency is known to have been in talks with Lowe Lintas since late last year.

In April, Lowe Lintas clients started to move to the Dublin agency, including Unilever Bestfoods. The agency already works on several Unilever brands, most notably Surf.

McConnells' reluctance to comment on industry speculation is in part due to its client list, which could include several potential conflicts of interest. McConnells handles Smithwicks, AIB and Kellogg's, while Lowe Lintas has Heineken, HSBC Bank and Weetabix.

Lowe Lintas is a member of the Interpublic Group of Cos.

In the past, global agencies coming to small markets such as Ireland were content to become affiliates of local agencies. But the trend now is for the multinationals to go for total buyouts -- and Lowe is understood to have been looking for that arrangement. -- Gerard O'Dwyer

Copyright June 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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