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WPP acquires influential Washington DC lobbying firm

LONDON – WPP Group is moving in on K Street as it acquires the influential and highly sought-after Washington lobbying firm Quinn Gillespie & Associates, which Omnicom failed to buy last year.

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Quinn Gillespie only launched in 2000 but has quickly built up a reputation, based partly on its founders, Democrat Jack Quinn and Republican Ed Gillespie, who now holds the key position of chairman of the Republican National Committee.

WPP's acquisition represents a real coup. Omnicom's Fleishman-Hillard had tried to buy it last year, however the purchase fell through after when the two sides were unable to reach a final agreement.

Though only three years old, Quinn Gillespie has been ranked by Influence and National Journal magazines as being among the top 10 most influential firms in Washington.

Since it was founded, Quinn Gillespie has established a reputation for managing difficult issues involving legislation, regulation and corporate reputation, and has attracted clients including Hewlett-Packard, Sony, Coca-Cola, PricewaterhouseCooper, Verizon, DirecTV, Tyson Foods and Microsoft.

Gillespie is one of the most prominent and successful strategists in the Republican Party. In 2002, he was general strategist for Elizabeth Dole's Senate campaign in North Carolina, in which Dole won the biggest margin of victory of any Senate candidate in the state in more than 25 years.

Gillespie also took time out from the lobbying firm he help found to be a communications adviser for the George W Bush Presidential election campaign. He is also a former director of communications and Congressional affairs for the Republican National Committee.

His partner, and co-chairman of the agency, Quinn, a Congressman for the state of New York, previously worked for 20 years at the Washington law firm of Arnold & Porter and served as counsel to the President in Bill Clinton's administration from November 1995 to February 1997. Prior to that, he was Vice-President Al Gore's chief of staff and counsellor for almost three years.

WPP said the acquisition of Quinn Gillespie reinforces its comprehensive communications services offering and continues the group's strategy of strengthening its practices in important markets and sectors.

The company employs 25 people and had revenues of $12.5m (£7.18m) for the year ended December 31 2002 and had net assets of $2.5m at the same date.

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