MCCANN BROWSING FOR AGENCY TO BUY

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NEW YORK-McCann-Erickson Worldwide, in the wake of parent Interpublic Group of Cos.' investment in a new multimedia company last week, is looking for some deals of its own.

Interpublic announced last week it has taken a stake in InterActive Partners .

McCann top brass working with John Dooner Jr., worldwide president-chief operating officer, said they are on the prowl for an independent midsize U.S. agency for an acquisition this year and have compiled a "long list" of prospects.

Earlier talks with Ammirati & Puris were stalled by Ammirati's Burger King Corp. account win this year, business that would conflict with McCann's work for McDonald's Corp.

"Growth is the issue," said Mr. Dooner, slated to be named worldwide CEO this summer. "An acquisition is one way of achieving that."

In the growth arena, McCann's worldwide operations fared better than many other mega-agencies last year with gross income rising 5.8% to more than $1 billion. McCann's U.S. agency billings were $1.6 billion.

Other industry executives say that a spinoff, similar to Lintas' formation of the Gotham Group and DDB Needham Worldwide's Berlin, Wright & Cameron, is being considered. McCann is said to have met with industry creatives to discuss setting up a spinoff shop for clients Coca-Cola Co. and, possibly, AT&T.

One of Mr. Dooner's missions as he takes the helm is to fortify McCann's mega-agency creative reputation. The shop's morale has been bruised as Coca-Cola yanked its U.S. creative account from McCann. But the agency has been bolstered by some recent account wins, including 1-800-FLOWERS and WorldPartners Co., an AT&T joint venture.

Last week, however, McCann said it would part with the New York State Department of Economic Development. That client tapped Anderson & Lembke for creative after becoming unhappy with McCann's work on the $25 million, five-year "I love New York" account.

Mr. Dooner denied any plans for a spinoff but did acknowledge considering new agency structures that would attract and house new talent.

Also to bolster creativity, McCann now has a database of its top creatives worldwide by craft, language and experience, who can be tapped for projects.

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