Aussie media buyers link to rival Zenith

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SYDNEY -- Merchant & Partners and Mitchell & Partners, two of Australia's major media buying agencies, are to form an alliance that will bill up to $750m to counter Zenith, the $800m buying group recently formed by Cordiant Plc. The move comes before local TV rate negotiations, due next month.

The Mitchell/Merchant alliance could foreshadow other major agency moves, with rumours of a potential network billing more than $1bn to be formed between Omnicom, which owns Clemenger BBDO and DDB in Australia, and WPP, which owns J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather.

Merchant currently buys for fellow Interpublic agencies McCann-Erickson, which is unlikely to join the new partnership because of other commitments, and Ammirati Puris Lintas, which "probably will". Mitchell's major clients are Mojopartners, Foote Cone & Belding and Optimedia.

Equmedia, billing around $700m, is the other major buyer. Clients include Leo Burnett Connaghan & May, Grey, DMB&B Weekes Morris Osborn, Young & Rubicam, Mattingly & Partners, Total Media and Euro RSCG The Ball Partnership.

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Copyright November 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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