SIEGEL & GALE TARGETS TECH ARENA: BUYING ITSELF BACK FROM SAATCHI, SHOP EYES ITS OWN ACQUISITIONS

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Siegel & Gale, a New York-based branding and corporate identity consultancy, plans to develop as a technology-focused shop in the U.S. and overseas following a $33.8 million management buyout from parent Saatchi & Saatchi.

The consultancy already has identified acquisition targets of its own, and is ready to start negotiations with one of them after its buyback closes at the end of June, said CEO Alan Siegel.

SIEGEL'S GOALS

Siegel & Gale wants to grow in Europe and Asia; make strategic U.S. acquisitions to expand its technology and interactive media functions; and invest in proprietary Internet software, Mr. Siegel said.

Mr. Siegel, who will remain CEO, said it was these growth plans that led the company to break with Saatchi. Siegel & Gale needed capital to make acquisitions and it needed equity for compensation to attract and retain executives in an entrepreneurial environment, he said.

The company's future is in the creation and management of corporate Web sites and related software tools, Mr. Siegel said.

FEELING RESTRICTED

"We felt very restricted being part of a very large, ponderous, advertising network," he said. "We move fast; we're very strategic [and] we're much more entrepreneurial. Also, we're not inhibited by the same kind of client conflicts."

Siegel & Gale's clients include American Express Co., AT&T Corp. and IBM Corp.

SAATCHI SATISFIED

In announcing the deal, Saatchi CEO Bob Seelert said Siegel & Gale's "operations are not part of Saatchi & Saatchi's core business . . . we are pleased that we have realized our investment in this way."

Saatchi bought Siegel & Gale in 1985, and expects a $17.4 million profit from the buyback.

The deal is expected to lead to an initial public offering. Vestar Capital Partners reportedly is paying $20 million of the price and will hold a majority stake in the shop, with employees owning the rest.

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