New Burnett/MacManus Group to go public

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In becoming the world's fourth-largest ad organization, the merged Leo Group and MacManus Group plan to lose their private status and launch a public offering next year based on market conditions.

The new entity will be headquartered in Chicago and temporarily referred to as BDM. Tokyo-based Dentsu Inc., the world's largest agency brand, is expected to become the largest shareholder in the new holding company with a 20% stake. BDM will be Dentsu's major partner serving clients outside of Asia.

Leo Burnett Co. and MacManus' D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles will retain their names and continue to operate independently. The deal is expected to close early next year.

Roger Haupt, the 51-year-old incoming CEO of Leo Group, will become CEO of BDM. Roy Bostock, 59, chairman-CEO of MacManus Group will become chairman. Richard Fizdale, 60, chairman-CEO of Leo Group, will become vice chairman. Craig Brown, 48, MacManus' chief operating officer, will become president-chief operating officer of BDM. The board initially will consist of these four executives as well as Dentsu representatives.

MacManus also is the parent of N.W. Ayer & Partners and Kaplan Thaler Group ad agencies as well as the MediaVest media services organization. Leo Group is the parent of the Burnett ad agencies and Starcom Worldwide media services company. It owns 49% of London-based Bartle Bogle Hegarty.

Leo Group said the new deal would create the world's largest media services company with billings in excess of $13 billion in addition to Dentsu's position in Japan.

Copyright November 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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