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Huntsworth sells off IMI market research arm in £63m deal

LONDON - Huntsworth is to sell its marketing services business, including its market research operation Incepta Marketing Intelligence, to Media Square for £63m following its merger with Incepta in April.

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Incepta Marketing Intelligence was created by the merger of Citigate DVL Smith and Hauck Research Services in March last year. 

The sell-off follows a review of the business and a decision to radically refocus the company on its core PR and healthcare communications activities. The proceeds from the cash deal will be used to reduce Huntsworth's borrowings and to increase financial flexibility.

The marketing services business Huntsworth is selling comprises a total of 16 businesses. These include DM agencies Finex and Silver Bullet; Dynamo, the promotional marketing agency; customer publishing business Citigate Publishing; and Gate Worldwide, the full-service brand communications and advertising agency formerly known as Citigate Albert Frank, which has offices in London, New York and Hong Kong.

The deal considerably swells Media Square's operations, which it will add to its existing agency business that includes: DM agency Clark McKay Walpole; business-to-business ad agency IAS; interactive shop Arnold Interactive; and retail marketing services agency Fourninety.

At the same time, the Huntsworth board is to be restructured, with Lord Chadlington becoming chief executive and Tracey Reid joining from GCap Media with responsibility for group human resources strategy.

This will see Incepta chief executive Richard Nichols will leave the company on October 18 when Huntsworth announces its interim results.

"The completion of the strategic review marks a new beginning for Huntsworth. Creating a single focus, substantially removing the debt burden and streamlining our operations will enable us to concentrate on the quality of our service to clients.

"I am particularly pleased that the businesses we are selling will now become owned by Media Square, a successful and progressive marketing services group," Lord Chadlington said.

Also being sold is design agency Holmes & Marchant; its market research business Incepta Marketing Intelligence, which was created by the merger of Citigate DVL Smith and Hauck Research Services in March 2004; Incepta Online, which comprises Tangozebra, DMD, JKD Communications, Citigate Hudson and Citigate MarchCom; sponsorship agencies Redmandarin and Karen Earl Sponsorship; and brand communications agency Lloyd Northover.

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