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(April 9, 2001) -- Havas Advertising, Paris, could ink a deal as early as this week to buy McKinney & Silver, the traditional ad agency unit of troubled MarchFirst, as expected (Advertising Age, March 26). Analysts have estimated the deal at $30 million to $35 million. The agency that handles Volkswagen AG's Audi of America account likely will be folded into Havas' Arnold Worldwide Partners network instead of its flagship agency Arnold Worldwide, Boston, which handles the German automaker's Volkswagen of America. Raleigh, N.C.-based McKinney would report to Arnold Worldwide Partners Chairman-CEO Ed Eskandarian and would not change its name, according to insiders.

Volkswagen initially did not want Audi to be part of Arnold for fear the $71 million account would be dwarfed by $350 million Volkswagen business. If a deal is delayed, insiders said, it will be because of the complexity of a deal that involves a company in danger of bankruptcy. MarchFirst has laid off thousands of employees, and its stock closed April 6 at 9 cents per share, down more than 99% from its 52-week high. Mr. Eskandarian and McKinney executives did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

Copyright April 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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