Cordiant takes control of Australia's biggest ad group

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SYDNEY -- Cordiant Communications Group has paid $19 million to move to full ownership of The Communications Group (TCG), Australia's biggest advertising company. Cordiant already owned 75.1% of TCG, the Australian holding company for ad agencies George Patterson Bates, Zenith Media and The Campaign Palace. Now it has mopped up the rest, delivering millions to more than 40 executives who have an interest in TCG Employment Investment, a trust set up in 1996 to hold the Australian-owned 24.9%.

"The future of the local company lies directly in the hands of Cordiant," says TCG and George Patterson Bates Australasian Chairman Alex Hamill. The trust bought the Australian stake from Cordiant in 1996 when Cordiant owned both the Bates and Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide advertising networks. Mr. Hamill says the local ownership of TCG came about because "at that time I was not confident the Bates part of Cordiant was getting an equal say at the table. I believed we had to control our destiny at a greater level."

But since last year's separation of the Bates and Saatchi organizations, Mr. Hamill says his view had changed dramatically. Collectively, TCG companies bill more than $1 billion from a diverse range of clients, including Ansett, Westpac, Bonds and Optus. For the year to December 31, TCG's profit before tax was $13.8 million.

Copyright October 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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