LONDON, March 26—Chime Communications, the second largest public relations holding company in the United Kingdom, is planning to maintain a hectic pace of acquisitions after reporting a 43 percent increase in profits to £43 million for 2000. At the same time, company chairman Lord Bell dismissed industry rumors that Chime is itself for sale.
Chime owns Bell Pottinger, a financial public relations agency, and Good Relations in the U.K., and recently made its first foray into the U.S. marketplace with the acquisition of Boston-based high-tech specialist LNS Communications. But its immediate focus is on acquisitions in the direct marketing and media buying arenas, according to Bell.
During 2000, the company made six acquisitions, including one of the U.K.’s largest independent ad agencies, Roose & Partners, and leading consumer PR firm The Quentin Bell Organisation.
"This is a good time to buy,” says Lord Bell. “Prices have topped out and people are being slightly less aggressive in their demands.” Speculation that the group could sell was dismissed as “absolute rubbish and complete fabrication…. Nobody could afford to buy us and all the senior managers would leave.” WPP has been mentioned as a likely acquired because the giant holding company owns a 27 percent stake in its smaller rival.
Bell says the company has not experienced any downturn in the market since the end of 2000, when Chime recorded revenues of £148 million, up 56 percent.