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Incepta acquires Huntsworth in deal that will create £195m company

LONDON - Market research and PR holding company Incepta is to merge with PR group Huntsworth in an all-share deal that will create a new major marketing communications presence worth £195.4m.

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Huntsworth said that a new name would be adopted as soon as possible after the merger. The benefits of the merger include £2.5m in cost savings, increased international reach and the ability to attract bigger clients and better talent.

Incepta owns the Citigate PR brand, the Red Consultancy, along with the growing market research operation Incepta Marketing Intelligence, which includes Momentum Research Group, DVL Smith and Hauck Research.

Huntsworth was set up by Lord Chadlington, the founder of Shandwick, which is now part of Interpublic Group and known as Weber Shandwick. It owns PR agencies including Counsel, Grayling and Harrison Cowley.

Lord Chadlington will become executive chairman of the group and has agreed to stay on in a full-time capacity until at least the end of 2008, while Incepta's chief executive Richard Nichols becomes chief executive.

Francis Maud, the Tory MP and chairman of Incepta, will take the joint deputy chairman role along with Jon Foulds, chairman of Huntsworth.

Lord Chadlington, chief executive of Huntsworth, said: "This transaction represents an exciting opportunity to create one of the world's leading public relations focused marketing and communications companies.

"We are confident that the merger will create significant benefits and exciting opportunities for clients, staff and shareholders of both companies."

Before agreeing to the merger with Huntsworth, Incepta had been in talks with Lord Bell's Chime Communications about a similar deal, but these broke down late last year.

Nichols said: "We believe Huntsworth is a compelling partner for Incepta and our merger will create a group with real international scale, outstanding brands and a blue-chip client base."

"In our discussions over the last year it has been obvious how complementary our businesses are and that a merger would further our ability to attract and retain people of the highest quality, with all the benefits that will bring for our stakeholders."

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