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Agency Simultaneously Girds for Nigel Carr Lawsuit

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SAN FRANCISCO ( -- Matt Hofherr, the managing partner, president and director of brand strategy of Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners' West Coast office, has left the agency as it prepares to fight a lawsuit filed by the executive Mr. Hofherr replaced.
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Mr. Hofherr, 36, worked at the San Francisco office for about 15 months.

$6 million lawsuit
His departure comes as Kirshenbaum's attorneys prepare for trial next month in a $6 million fraud suit brought by account planner Nigel Carr, formerly general manager of KB&P West who was one-third owner of the San Francisco shop.

Mr. Carr, who started at Kirshenbaum's New York office in July 1997, was fired Jan. 5, 2004. Mr. Hofherr succeeded Mr. Carr.

On Jan. 29 of that year, the agency announced it sold a 60% stake to MDC Partners.

In the upcoming legal action, Mr. Carr alleged that the agency's principals tricked him into signing away his rights to his one-third share of the West Coast operation. Mr. Carr alleged the sale price was approximately $75 million.

Denies $75 million price
However, in response to the complaints, Kirshenbaum Bond denied that Mr. Carr was fired to prevent him from participating in the agency's sale, and denied the alleged sale price. The agency also said Mr. Carr was not entitled to a share, "even absent termination."

A mandatory settlement conference is scheduled for April 7, with the trial to follow April 25. In a statement, a Kirshenbaum spokeswoman said, "We prefer to focus on our core business and not on litigation. But we refuse to be held hostage to phony claims and exorbitant demands. We are not going to try our case in the press but will do so in a San Francisco courtroom on April 25 and look forward to disproving Nigel Carr's claims."

Mr. Hofherr said he resigned from Kirshenbaum Bond to work at an integrated independent shop, Swirl, as president and director of brand strategy. Swirl's clients include eBay Motors, Panda Express Restaurants and San Francisco Magazine.

"I love the folks at Kirshenbaum," Mr. Hofherr said.

Duties transferred to New York
A Kirshenbaum spokeswoman said Mr. Hofherr's position would not be filled. As part of a transition to operating the shop from its New York headquarters, Mr. Hofherr's San Francisco duties will be transferred to Aaron Reitkopf, president of Kirshenbaum Bond's New York office.

Noel Cottrell, who had been managing partner and executive creative director at KB&P West, now works as a consultant to the New York office, the spokeswoman said. Creative for the San Francisco office is now run out of New York under Rob Feakins, vice chairman and executive creative director. Porter Gale remains general manager and managing partner of the San Francisco office, which has about 20 employees. Among the office's clients are the San Francisco Giants.

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