HAMBURG - After a year of negotiations, first with Omnicom Group and later with True North Communications, Springer & Jacoby here has sold 35.5 percent of its shares to True North.
Springer & Jacoby handles the Mercedes-Benz account in Germany and has been looking around for a partner to help it fund an international network to service Mercedes and other clients internationally.
Meanwhile, True North's main agency, FCB Worldwide, is battling Omnicom-owned BBDO Worldwide for DaimlerChrysler's $1.4 billion-plus global creative and media accounts for Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge.
True North's FCB Worldwide, Southfield, USA, handles creative for Chrysler and Jeep, as well as corporate advertising. Its DaimlerChrysler Media Alliance has international media duties.
D/C is also the parent of Mercedes-Benz.
Omnicom's BBDO Worldwide, Troy, USA, handles Dodge, while its Pentacom unit handles North American media buying and planning.
True North has the option to increase its share in Springer & Jacoby to 51 percent by 2003, but Springer & Jacoby will retain management control. The agency's executive board will consist of two executives from Springer & Jacoby and one from True North.
'The independence of our agency is granted by the participation model. We have the majority in the board,' says spokesman Andre Kemper.
Michael Trautmann, 35, has been appointed managing director for Springer & Jacoby International. He says there is no fixed timetable from True North to set up the international network. S&J opened a London office a year ago and is opening offices in Barcelona and Milan.
Springer & Jacoby and True North both handle budgets from DaimlerChrysler. In Germany, S&J handles the Mercedes-Benz and Smart budgets, and the agency is bidding for the European Smart budget.
Established in 1979, last year S&J had billings of $409 million and employed 505. Main clients include Deutsche Bank and Deutsche Telekom. The agency recently did some project work for Coca-Cola Co.
Automotive News Europe's sister publication Advertising Age reported September 11 that just two days before DaimlerChrysler invited bids for the $1.4 billion Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge accounts, the board of True North Communications turned down an acquisition offer from Omnicom.
Omnicom's goal, says an executive with knowledge of the offer, was to consolidate its hold on the DaimlerChrysler account.