Acquisition-Happy MDC Takes Minority Stake in NYC Shop

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NEW YORK ( -- Less than two months after acquiring one New York independent advertising agency, Toronto-based MDC Partners has bought a stake in a second, a spokeswoman for the holding company said today.

Two shops since January
MDC in January took a majority stake in

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Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners. At the time, it was believed MDC was eyeing another New York independent, Cliff Freeman & Partners. The agency is now part of MDC, which holds a minority stake in it.

"Cliff Freeman & Partners has brilliant creative in their DNA, which is why every agency network has wooed them," Miles Nadal, chairman-CEO of MDC Partners said in a statement.

The agency's ad accounts include those of Turner Broadcasting Systems, The Sports Authority and casino Mohegan Sun, which the agency is defending in a review.

U.S. properties
MDC Partners, which also has a 49% stake in Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami, and majority ownership of Margeotes/Fertitta & Partners, New York, has been buying into U.S. agencies for several months. MDC late last year was reported to have set aside $100 million for purchases. Mr. Nadal in January told Advertising Age he intends to add a significant number of independent agencies to the company's portfolio.

This is not Cliff Freeman & Partners' first experience with outside ownership; in the late 1990s, Saatchi & Saatchi held a stake, but sold the company to Freeman management in 1999 for an estimated $4.6 million.

Founded in 1987
Founded in 1987 by Cliff Freeman and Arthur Bijur, the agency built a reputation for highly creative advertising and won recognition for its including one for Little Caesar's that carried the tagline "Pizza! Pizza!" In recent years, the agency has suffered from some high-profile client losses, including sandwich shop Quizno's and Midas. Additionally, a number of senior staff left the agency in the past two years.

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