Publicis Groupe acquires 100% stake in BBH
05 July 2012
Publicis Groupe has bought 51% of the privately held shares in Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH), in a move that will bring the Groupe's ownership of one of the most creatively lauded agencies in the world to 100%.
In two separate transactions, Publicis Groupe has acquired 51% of the shares of BBH, in which the French group already held a 49% stake since 2002 when the Groupe acquired Bcom3, from its founders Nigel Bogle and Sir John Hegarty and their partners; and has acquired 100% of the shares of Neogama/BBH in Brazil (which includes 34% from BBH and 66% from its founder Alexandre Gama).
Terms of the deal have not been revealed. The move follows two years of negotiations within the agency, with both the founders putting together a succession plan in place and will suprise many in the industry which had been speculating a management buyout to ensure the agency's independence and creative streak.
Gama will succeed Hegarty as the worldwide chief creative officer. Simon Sherwood, previously group chief executive, takes over as group chairman. Gwyn Jones, the network's first graduate trainee, becomes group chief executive and Neil Munn, chief executive of BBH's brand ventures company Zag, takes on the group chief operating officer role in addition to his current role.
Both agencies will retain their names.
Founding partners Bogle and Hegarty will remain active on client business but will transfer executive responsibilty to the new management team. They have both committed to stay on for the next two years.
In an unusual step, the chairman and chief executive of Publicis Groupe Maurice Levy has agreed with the BBH management to create an "autonomy inside" the Groupe to enable the independence of the network. This has led to the creation of a new global board for BBH holding company that will include three members of the Publicis Groupe management board-- Maurice Levy, Jean-Yves Naouri and Jean-Michel Etienne, and also Steve King, global chief executive of ZenithOptimedia, and BBH founder Bogle and Hegarty alongside the new group chairman Sherwood.
In a statement, Levy says: "My relationship with founders Nigel Bogle, Sir John Hegarty and Alexandre Gama spans a decade-- years in which I developed great admiration for the exceptional achievements of these legendary talents and their agencies, the remarkable work they create for their clients and their magnet to attract talent and clients.
"Faithful to our motto 'Viva la Difference' we have decided to engineer an integration that will preserve and protect their specific culture, their working methods and the characteristics of the agencies through an approach of autonomy inside the Groupe. Thus all ingredients that have enabled the success of BBH and Neogama/BBH will be protected today, tomorrow and in the long tem."
Bogle adds in a statement: "We were looking for an opportunity that would ensure that our agency maintained a high degree of autonomy and could continue to abide by the values characterised by the black sheep. The key point for us was the preservation of our operational independence in managing the BBH brandm which has produced almost uninterrupted growth for thirty years. The new ownership not only ensures our autonomy, but brings us considerable advantages through Publicis Groupe's resources and global infrastructure."
BBH has developed a micro-network with offices in London, Sao Paulo, Singapore, Shanghai, Mumbai and Los Angeles and employs over 1,000 people. Revenue for the BBH micro-network (not including Brazil) reached 112.2m euros last year.
It was founded in 1982 has since created memorable campaigns for brands including Johnnie Walker, Audi and Axe. Levi Strauss was one of its first clients (which has since departed) and an early strapline for the brand-- 'when the world zigs,zags' went on to become the agency's tagline.
Headquarted in Sao Paulo, with an office in Rio de Janeiro, Neogama/BBH employs a staff of approximately 270. Its 2011 revenue reached 42.2m euros.