Publicis to acquire Mojo partners Australia

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SYDNEY -- Mojo Partners Australia, once the quintessential Australian advertising agency, is to be sold by its U.S. owner True North Communications to Paris-based communications group Publicis, which has sought approval from Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board. No price has been disclosed.

Publicis is already in the final stages of purchasing 60% of Mojo Partners New Zealand, with executives retaining the remaining 40%.

Mojo, formed as a boutique creative shop in the early 1980s by Alan ("Mo") Morris and Allan ("Jo") Johnston, (and Advertising Age's international agency of the year for 1986) became famous for Australian-flavored jingles that boosted clients' sales, was sold to Los Angeles-based Chiat/Day in 1989 for a rumored $30m and then to Foote Cone & Belding in 1992. Recently senior Mojo executives have taken a minority shareholding in the agency.

The new sale follows months of speculation, first mooted by FCB Worldwide Chairman and CEO Brendan Ryan after Publicis disbanded its 10-year-old joint venture with True North, which owns FCB, last February.

Mojo Partners' Australasian chairman Graeme Wills, who is based in Auckland but is visiting Sydney, could not be contacted, but sources at both True North Media and FCB here confirmed discussions were well advanced.

Publicis and Mojo have several accounts in common, including Nestle and Coca-Cola. FCB here is expected to lose the L'Oreal hair care account to Mojo, as the business has close links with Publicis, as well as Perrier.

Both Mojo's media buying subsidiary and FCB Media in Australia are expected to remain part of the Mitchell/Merchant media buying alliance for rate negotiations.

Copyright August 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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