WPP acquires U.K. healthcare agency

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LONDON--WPP Group has acquired Shire Hall Group, the largest independent healthcare communications consultancy in the U.K.

The trend toward global marketing in the pharmaceutical industry prompted the sale. "It is essential for us to have a worldwide presence," says Patrick Benson, Shire Hall's chairman. "It is more than globalization -- it is about the growing need to partner more effectively with communications specialists from other disciplines, such as direct marketing and advertising."

Shire Hall will retain its brand identity and management structure and will join WPP's Branding & Identity, Healthcare and Specialist Communications division.

London-based Shire Hall, founded in 1985, has three operating companies: Shire Hall Communications, which specializes in U.K. public relations; Shire Hall International, which handles international PR and 4D Communications, which provides medical education.

Clients include Glaxo Wellcome, Astra Zeneca, SmithKline Beecham and Bristol-Myers Squibb. The group employs 70 people and reported revenues $6.9 million in 1998.

Copyright August 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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