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Interpublic considers merger of Draft and FCB

NEW YORK - Interpublic is planning to merge its Draft and Foote Cone & Belding agencies, according to reports.

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The holding company is believed to be also studying the alternative of allying the two agencies within a new structure.

Such a move would bring together traditional ad agency FCB, believed to be the world's second-oldest agency, with the 28-year-old and more successful below-the-line shop, headed by its founder Howard Draft.

It is not known whether Draft himself or Steve Blamer, the chief executive of FCB, would lead the combined group.

Blamer was hired last June from Grey to reinvigorate FCB, which is predominantly focused on the US and has lacked international clout.

One of his first moves was to axe around 300 jobs and FCB's international regional structure. Scott Hollingsworth, EMEA CEO, and Ben Barnes, Asia Pacific and Africa CEO, departed and Gene Bartley, North America CEO, was to retire this year.

Their roles were replaced with a single FCB International CEO, Rafael de Guzman, formerly FCB's Latin American president and CEO.

In the UK, Interpublic bought Banks Hoggins O'Shea at the end of 1998 and merged it with FCB to form what is now FCB London.

In the UK, Draft London bosses were unavailable for comment but a spokeswoman for FCB London described the reports as inaccurate and said: "They are just rumours at the moment." Blamer contacted the agency today to say he had nothing to report.

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