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Dentsu, Tokyo, suffered a 4.3% drop in billings, to $10.78 billion, for the year ended March 31. The agency giant's profit was down 6.7% to a still enormous $1.43 billion. It's the first time since 1993 that Dentsu has recorded such decreases. Magazine advertising by clients was the only major category that increased in billings, while newspaper, radio, TV and sales promotion all posted lower billings. The declines came as ad spending in Japan dropped in 1998 for the first time in five years, as the nation suffers through its worst recession since the end of World War II.

Regus Business Centres consolidates at FCB

Regus Business Centres consolidated its estimated $40 million account at Foote, Cone & Belding. More than a dozen agencies worldwide previously handled the account. Banks Hoggins O'Shea/FCB, London, will be lead agency for global branding, advertising and marketing; FCB, New York, will handle North American marketing efforts. U.K.-based Regus specializes in offering fully furnished and equipped business offices on short-term and flexible leases.

Expansion-minded Havas creates sports ad unit

Havas Advertising, Paris, created Havas Advertising Sports, which will be its platform for expansion in sports advertising and marketing in France and internationally. Havas Advertising Sports will combine the activities of three of Havas' existing specialized agencies (Jour J, LMG and PB Conseil), with combined revenue of $32 million. Havas said under its global expansion strategy for the unit, it will seek to quadruple revenue through acquisitions and internal growth within three years, by which time half its sports marketing business will be outside France.

Finlandia taps Ammirati for $30 mil in vodka ads

Finlandia Vodka consolidated its estimated $30 million in advertising outside the U.S. at Ammirati Puris Lintas, Helsinki. The U.S. business remains at sister Interpublic Group of Cos. shop Martin Agency, Richmond, Va. Ammirati Finland will lead development of a campaign that will break in Western, Central and Eastern Europe, as well as Latin America. The assignments previously were at several international agencies, including DDB Worldwide, which handled ads in Finland. The win came a week after Ammirati, New York, announced its resignation of the $15 million Bacardi rum creative assignment (AA, May 31).

Lamar spends $1.6 bil for Chancellor outdoor biz

In the second major outdoor-ad acquisition over the span of five days, No. 3 outdoor company Lamar Advertising Co., Baton Rouge, La., on June 1 agreed to acquire the outdoor business of Chancellor Media Corp., Dallas, ranking No. 5 in revenue. In the stock and cash deal worth about $1.6 billion, Lamar will pay $700 million in cash and issue common stock valued at approximately $900 million to Chancellor. If the deal is approved by the U.S. Department of Justice, Lamar will leapfrog Clear Channel Communications and take the No. 2 spot. Lamar in 1998 had U.S. gross revenue of $325 million and Chancellor had $236 million, according to BT Alex. Brown. The deal allows Chancellor to pay down debt and focus solely on its radio business.

Westwood One plans Metro Networks merger

Acquisition-hungry CBS Corp. struck again last week, as Westwood One announced a $900 million merger with Metro Networks, the largest provider of traffic reporting and a leading supplier of local TV and radio news. Westwood One, part-owned by CBS, is the U.S.' largest radio network; Metro Networks will get $900 million in Westwood One common stock from the deal. Westwood One supplies more than 150 news, sports and entertainment programs to more than 5,000 radio stations around the world. It already owns Shadow Traffic, the second-largest traffic-reporting provider. Metro Networks operates in more than 80 markets nationally and services more than 2,000 radio and TV station affiliates in six countries. The merger will require approval of the U.S. Department of Justice. CBS, led by dealmaking President-CEO Mel Karmazin, also was on the acquisition trail on the Internet, taking a 35% share of Switchboard Inc., an online directory. In the previous week, CBS' Infinity Broadcasting Group acquired Outdoor Systems, the top out-of-home media company in the U.S. (AA, May 31).

EMAP Petersen's profit at $11.3 mil in 1st quarter

U.K.-based EMAP, in reporting preliminary earnings results, said EMAP Petersen had a first-quarter profit of $11.3 million on revenue of $69.64 million. Ad revenue for the U.S. magazine operation was up 35% from February to April vs. a year ago. EMAP Petersen was formed in January as the U.S. magazine unit of EMAP.

Sears links up with MSN sites

Sears, Roebuck & Co. inked a two-year, multimillion-dollar deal to advertise across Microsoft Corp.'s MSN sites. It also will be the largest advertiser on the MSN HomeAdvisor real estate service ( The deal includes banner ads, sponsorships and promotional ads. Sears and Microsoft also will build a co-branded area on HomeAdvisor called Homeownership. Sears this spring ramped up its online selling capabilities by adding some 2,000 major appliances over its site as well as PartsDirect, a site offering some 4.2 million parts for household appliances. In addition to the 3,500 Craftsman tools offered online, Sears plans to expand its product offerings later this year.

'LHJ,' Office Depot create

Ladies' Home Journal will join forces with Office Depot in a multilevel marketing program called Scheduled to begin this fall, is being created to inform women -- the majority of Office Depot's in-store, online and phone/fax customers -- about technology. An eight-page special ad section will appear in the Meredith Corp. magazine's October issue, and customized display kiosks will be erected in Office Depot in September and October with 250,000 reprints of the section. Both partners will tout the

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