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True North Communications announced today fourth-quarter revenues of $441 million, which reflects a 9.3% organic growth over fourth-quarter 1999. The company had a net new business loss of $742 million for the quarter, mainly due to the loss of the DaimlerChrysler account. Excluding that account, new business billings would have been $191 million, up from $151 million in fourth quarter of 1999.

The company is delaying reporting net income and earnings until after Modem Media, which is 46% owned by True North, releases its results.

Not counting Modem Media, revenue for 2000 rose to $1.5 billion, an increase of 11.9% from 1999. Chairman-CEO David Bell said the delay in reporting for Modem Media could potentially stall plans to sell that company in the first quarter.

The company earlier canceled a planned March 1 earnings announcement and conference call to resolve accounting issues with the Securities and Exchange Commission. True North said today the issues were related to over-amortizing goodwill and other intangibles in acquired companies. The company had wanted to amortize intangibles over a 40-year period, but the SEC insisted on a 20-year term.

True North has been ripe for a takeover since losing the DaimlerChrysler account last fall, but it is still unknown which holding company might acquire True North. Havas Advertising had been a contender, but insiders now say the talks appear to have cooled off, and that Interpublic Group of Cos. might be a serious candidate.

Copyright March 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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