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Aegis builds healthcare arm with £24m Isis research buy

LONDON - Aegis Group has become the latest agency to expand its healthcare business as it pays almost £24m for international healthcare research business Isis Research.

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Isis will become a key part of Synovate Healthcare, the group's healthcare research division, and is the fourth acquisition Aegis, which owns the media planning and buying group Carat, has made in the last year.

Last month, it bought international research business the Censydiam Group for as much as £6.1m and, earlier this year, it bought Blackstone Market Facts, a research company based in India, for £600,000.

Aegis will pay an initial £15.5m, comprising £9.7m in cash and £5.8m in shares. The deal also includes a payment of up to £8.3m, of which approximately £2.9m may be in shares and the remainder in cash payable over two years.

Isis had revenues of £20.5m for the year ended March 31 2003 and the cash acquired with the business is approximately £1.7m.

Isis provides some of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies with syndicated and custom healthcare research including cancer care audits in five key European markets and in Japan.

Aegis said the acquisition of Isis complements Synovate's existing US cancer care audit business and broadens the range of syndicated audits to include HIV, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis B and diabetes.

Isis also has a range of custom research products that, among other things, help marketers define the positioning and image of drug brands and the effectiveness of advertising and other forms of communication.

Doug Flynn, chief executive of Aegis, said: "Isis is a great fit and provides a number of excellent research products that will be rolled out throughout Synovate Healthcare's global network. In particular, there is a strong and growing demand from the major pharmaceutical companies to monitor how medical professionals utilise drugs in cancer care and one of the first benefits that our clients will see from this acquisition will be the industry's first ever global cancer care audit."

The healthcare market has been the focus of much attention recently, with agency groups going on a spending spree and snapping up independent shops.

Euro RSCG recently expanded its healthcare advertising business with the acquisition of Money Syner Communications, the largest independent healthcare ad agency in the UK.

The other major global advertising groups, including Publicis Groupe, WPP Group and Grey Global Group, have also all been building their healthcare offerings as the industry proves to be one of the more profitable areas.

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