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Chime linked to Brunswick sale

LONDON - Lord Bell, chairman of Chime Communications, is reportedly eyeing up rival financial PR agency Brunswick as a potential acquisition target once the advertising market improves.

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Brunswick has long been rumoured to be on the market with a price tag of around £100m, with interested buyers said to include Sir Martin Sorrell's WPP Group.

In a trading statement released yesterday in which Chime warned it saw no improvement in the market until 2002, the company stated: "Acquisition activity has been reduced in 2001 but the management remain committed to growing both organically and through acquisition in the future."

A report in The Independent says Lord Bell would look to pay "no more than £50m for Brunswick". If this is the case, Alan Parker, owner of Brunswick, has certainly missed the peak of the market. Rival financial PR shop Finsbury was sold to WPP this year for a sum reportedly between £40m and £60m -- despite the fact it has fewer FTSE-100 clients than Brunswick.

Chime Communications already owns Bell Pottinger Financial and Smithfield Financial. In yesterday's statement, it said its financial PR business had suffered from the downturn in mergers and acquisitions activity this year.

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