NEW YORK, June 22—International communications holding company Interpublic closed its acquisition of rival True North on Friday, after regulators in Europe gave their approval to the deal and four days after True North shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favor of the union. The deal paves the way for the planned merger of Interpublic’s Weber Shandwick Worldwide and True North’s BSMG Worldwide—but the unification of the two companies began even before the announcement, when Weber Shandwick took over the Tallahassee office of BSMG.
The addition of BSMG’s fledgling Tallahassee practice, which provides public affairs and public relations services, gives Weber Shandwick a broader presence in Florida and adds two major statewide accounts, the Florida Lottery and Floridians for School Choice. Weber Shandwick has been a major player in the state since it acquired Miami’s Rubin Barney & Birger in 1997.
“Weber Shandwick’s presence in Tallahassee is significant in that this office is not a lobbying practice,” said Christine Barney, president of Weber Shandwick Worldwide/Miami. “We believe there is a need in Tallahassee for the kinds of cutting-edge public relations programs for which Weber Shandwick Worldwide is known.”
Barney says she expects the Tallahassee office will work in partnership with a wide variety of government relations practitioners.
“Northern and central Florida are quickly becoming major marketplaces for economic development, as well as for technology and public affairs,” says Cindy O’Connell, managing director of Weber Shandwick Worldwide/Tallahassee. “With a strong presence in Tallahassee, combined with the Miami practice’s statewide, national and international communications experience and crisis expertise, Weber Shandwick Worldwide is well positioned to continue as the state’s PR leader.”
Under the terms of the Interpublic-True North deal, Interpublic will exchange 1.14 shares for each outstanding share of True North, creating the world’s largest communications holding company, with combined revenues of $7.2 billion. In addition to Weber Shandwick and BSMG, the new company’s major brands include McCann-Erickson, The Lowe Group, FCB Worldwide, and Golin/Harris International.
“`The completion of this deal signals an exciting new era for us as we continue to evolve towards leadership in all areas of marketing services,” says John Dooner, chairman and CEO of Interpublic. “We will be able to expand the range of combined and integrated services that we can offer our clients on a worldwide basis. Our two companies have worked so well during the transition period that we will be able to move quickly to begin to realize the benefits of this acquisition.”