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Publicis Groupe takes majority stake in Freud Communications

LONDON - Publicis Groupe is to buy a 50.1% stake in the famous UK public relations consultancy Freud Communications, in a deal reported to be netting as much as £14m for the agency's founder and chairman Matthew Freud.

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Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but it is understood to be worth around £35m. Freud is believed to be retaining around two-thirds of the 49.9% not owned by Publicis, with other senior executives, including vice-chairman Kris Thykier, owning the remainder.

This is the second time that Freud has sold his agency to an advertising business. The first time was in 1994, when Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, part of the Omnicom Group, took a stake in the agency. Six years later, in early 2001, Freud Communications went private again after a management buyout, reported to be worth £10m.

Matthew Freud said that the deal would help Freud Communications expand globally.

"A partnership with the Publicis Groupe must be the ultimate goal for any independent marketing agency. To be able to preserve and develop our business and culture but have the resources of the most creative global network will provide great opportunities for clients and staff alike," Freud said.

The agency counts among its clients brands such as KitKat, Nike, Tropicana and Jack Daniel's. It is famous for stunts such as the 1995 Pepsi Blue rebranding, which saw a Concorde repainted blue for a day.

It is also famous for its colourful founder, Freud, who is a friend to celebrities such as Chris Evans, and is married to Elisabeth Murdoch, the daughter of Rupert. He was most recently in the news for his involvement as a financial backer for Piers Morgan's acquisition of the Press Gazette.

Maurice Levy, chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe, said: "Matthew Freud is a unique and innovative presence in the world of British public relations. And bringing him and Freud Communications into the Publicis Groupe fold will demonstrate to our clients -- both British and global -- our commitment to marshal the best and brightest skills to ensure their success."

Freud Communications, which employs 106 staff, will become part of the Public Relations and Corporate Communications Group of Publicis. The deal will add Freud Communications to Publicis' existing PR businesses, Manning Selvage & Lee and Publicis Consultants.

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