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Lord Bell's Chime confirms talks to buy ad agency VCCP

LONDON - Lord Bell's Chime Communications is in talks to buy advertising agency VCCP, which counts O2 and Hyundai among its clients.

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In a statement issued this morning by Chime, the PR and advertising group confirmed it is in talks.

"The directors note the recent press comment relating to the potential acquisition by the ompany of VCCP Limited. The directors confirm that the company is in discussions with VCCP Limited in relation to acquiring it."

Vallance Carruthers Coleman Priest, which was founded in January 2002, already has connections with Chime. One partner, Adrian Coleman, was formerly a chief executive of Chime's AMD marketing services division and Ian Priest is a former managing director of HHCL/Red Cell, the advertising agency 51% owned by Chime.

It is reported that VCCP, which is privately funded, is considering a deal because of its dependence on founder client O2 and it wants the backing of a holding company in the event that the mobile phone giant shifts its account or cut back advertising spend for any reason.

Chime, run by chairman Lord Bell, is focused more on public relations than advertising, having sold a 49% stake in HHCL to the WPP Group in 2003.

It does owns ad agency Heresy, created out of last year's merger of Roose & Partners and Will Pond-Jones Collective. Earlier this year, the agency won the £3m ad account for hotel company Premier Travel Inn.

Chime also owns the public relations brands Bell Pottinger, Good Relations, and Resonate.

When the company released its final results in March, Lord Bell said Chime would be taking a cautious approach to acquisitions this year, although he said there would be "some activity".

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