GM opens review for Europe media

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[London] General Motors Corp. is reviewing its estimated $700 million media planning and buying account across Europe, a threat to Universal McCann and Initiative Media, the Interpublic Group of Cos. media networks that control most of the business. Aegis Group's Carat handles the business in Germany.

GM refused to comment on whether the pitch will be limited to its three roster media agencies or may be thrown open to new contenders. The automaker confirmed the pan-European review in a statement, saying it is "targeting an increase in synergies to leverage the company's entire advertising-media purchase across the region." GM-owned units in Europe include Opel, Vauxhall, Saab, GM Daewoo and Chevrolet.

The review will be led by Jonathan Browning, GM's European VP-sales, marketing and after sales, based in Zurich, Switzerland. The pitch comes as GM struggles for revenue growth in Europe after reporting a $45 million loss in Europe for the second quarter of 2004, compared to a $3 million loss for the same period last year. GM's European market share rose slightly to 9.6% for the first half of 2004 from 9.5% for the same period in 2003.