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Icelanders make foray into design with Loewy investment

LONDON – Icelandic advertising agency Hvita Husid has invested £1m for a 10% stake in branding communications agency Loewy and a seat on the board as part of its expansion plans into Europe.

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Loewy is chaired by Channel 4 chairman and entrepreneur Luke Johnson, who provided venture capital backing in 2004 that enabled chief executive Charlie Hoult to build the business via acquisition.

It is understood that Loewy, the UK's 20th largest design agency, will build its business ahead of 2005 target revenues of £10m and 100-person head count, following new mergers and positive trading.

Hvita Husid, which translates as "white house", is the first Icelandic agency to build a UK base and has seen a full-time Icelandic team located at Loewy's London headquarters.

Following the seven-figure investment, the Icelandic team is already working on several projects in finance, shipping and retail in the UK, with Hvita Husid gaining new business in Iceland as a result of the group's latest move.

The latest deal follows a trend by Icelandic retail group Baugur, which bought The Big Food Group, owner of Iceland food store, women's fashion label Karen Millen, Hamleys, and jewellery store Goldsmiths.

Hoult said: "Icelandic entrepreneurs have been grabbing the headlines for their daring investments in UK business -- it's very exciting to have them on board.

"This business talent and flair runs through their marketing agencies and Hvita Husid wants to be the first agency to take a slice of the action. It's a definite two-way relationship with lots to learn on both sides."

Loewy says it is moving forward to opening the way to potential flotation on the London Stock Exchange.

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