Publicis buys BBH stake in SMP

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[London] Publicis Groupe bought Bartle Bogle Hegarty's majority stake in Starcom Motive Partnership, creating the U.K.'s biggest media specialist company. SMP and MediaVest, Publicis' other UK media agency, will have combined billings of $1.25 billion. Mark Cranmer, the Starcom MediaVest Group chief executive for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said, "We can now drive Starcom as part of a global network with one agenda, one set of interests and one owner. We have a coherent group proposition and a unified vision at senior management level."

Starcom Motive Partnership will retain its name, and MediaVest becomes Starcom MediaVest. The two agencies recently collaborated to win the $38 million British Telecom print planning and buying account but cannot formally merge due to conflicts, including car clients Fiat and Honda Motors, although some backroom functions will be shared.

Management teams at the two agencies, including Mr. Cranmer, SMP Managing Director Iain Jacob, and Andy Roberts, the executive buying director, won't change.

Bartle Bogle's CEO Nigel Bogle said, "We are not starting our own media business and wherever possible our preferred media partner will remain SMP. What we are doing is to reassert the media agenda more strongly inside the agency as part of the creative development process." Publicis owns 49% of Bartle Bogle.

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