SEAT could shift from Bates to Grey

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[London] Volkswagen's Barcelona-based SEAT car maker is believed to be moving its $80 million European account to Grey Global Group's Grey Advertising Worldwide from Bates Advertising, which WPP Group is in the process of dismantling after buying Bates parent Cordiant Communications Group. Uli Veigel, CEO of Bates Frankfurt and a key figure on the SEAT account, insisted that no decision has been made yet. WPP Group Chief Executive Martin Sorrell attempted to keep the car account, flying to Barcelona to meet with SEAT executives in July even before he completed the Cordiant acquisition. But WPP's biggest client, Ford Motor Corp., which recently made WPP its global supplier, has made it clear that the car giant expects an exclusive relationship. Grey declined to comment. A SEAT spokesman in Barcelona said the company is carefully negotiating the legal issues surrounding the situation with WPP but wouldn't comment further. An executive familiar with the company said the account will go to Grey, and the move was widely reported in the U.K. trade press.