Amid Job Losses, Chime Targets Brunswick
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Amid Job Losses, Chime Targets Brunswick

More than 550 jobs will be lost at British-based advertising and public relations holding companies Cordiant and Chime Communications, which has reportedly set its sights on acquiring rival Brunswick.

Paul Holmes

LONDON, December 7—More than 550 jobs will be lost at British-based advertising and public relations holding companies Cordiant (parent to Morgen-Walke Associates in the U.S. and Financial Dynamics in the U.K.) and Chime Communications (parent to London’s Bell Pottinger and Good Relations and to U.S. high-tech PR shop LNS Communications).
 
But that doesn’t mean expansion plans have been put on hold. According to a report in The Independent, Chime founder Lord Tim Bell is looking to resume acquisitions as soon as markets improve, with financial and crisis communications specialist Brunswick his number one target.
 
Meanwhile, Huntsworth—the firm now headed by Shandwick founder Lord Chadlington—is making a move of its own, advertising in the U.K. edition of PR Week for someone to “build the next Brunswick or Financial Dynamics—but better.” In the ad, Chadlington says, “We are looking for one key executive, or maybe a team or a small business of outstanding financial PR executives, to set up the next major financial PR company in the City and from there build it worldwide.
 
“We will provide the necessary financial backing, equity participation, profit sharing—whatever it takes to attract and keep the very best people in the industry.” Huntsworth, he says, already has about 250 people, working in consumer, healthcare, high-tech, corporate and public affairs.
 
At Chime, Bell says he is “committed to growing both organically and through acquisition in the future” even though the current weakness in the capital markets has put the firm’s expansion plans on hold. Brunswick, which has been expanding rapidly in the U.S. over the past 12 months, is believed to be the top target, although the asking price would probably have to come down. Bell is believed to be interested in paying £50 million for the firm, half the price founder Alan Parker is believed to want, and considerably less than the £150 million he is believed to have turned down when the market was at its height.
 
Chime has cut 170 positions since September 11, more than 10 percent of its 1,100-strong workforce. Cordiant, meanwhile, says it is cutting 400 more jobs, bringing the total losses at the company to 1,100 for the year. In a statement, the company says: “Trading conditions in the advertising and marketing communications sector remain exceptionally difficult. The global economic slowdown has led to an unprecedented rate of decline in marketing expenditure, which has accelerated across the second half of the year.”
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