MODEM MEDIA, POPPE TYSON LOOK ELSEWHERE

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Modem Media and Poppe Tyson, two of the hottest interactive shops, are exploring separate alliances after calling off a merger at the last minute.

Modem and Poppe halted talks just over a week ago after several weeks of negotiations. Modem now is reported to be in discussions with True North Communications; Poppe is expected to complete one or more acquisitions in the next few months.

REACHED ADVANCED STAGE

"Discussions were broken off at an advanced stage," said G.M. O'Connell, partner in Modem Media, Westport, Conn. The merger apparently broke down over disputes about company management and conflicts between Modem client AT&T Corp. and technology clients of Poppe and its parent Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon & Eckhardt.

Poppe Chairman-CEO Fergus O'Daly declined comment but the New York agency is said to be looking at other targets.

True North's TN Technologies and Poppe are both looking to beef up their businesses in preparation for planned initial public offerings.

TN Technologies is now in talks with Modem, say several executives, including one inside True North. Mr. O'Connell and True North Chairman-CEO Bruce Mason declined comment.

True North and Modem share AT&T as a client.

WON'T JEOPARDIZE AT&T

"Modem Media is not going to do a deal in any way to jeopardize our relationship with AT&T," Mr. O'Connell said. "They're driving this business."

Modem is making a presentation this week at a New York investment conference.

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