Weber Worldwide In Talks to Buy Shandwick

Weber PR Worldwide, the firm that has bounded on the scene with a slew of acquisitions and alliances since it was acquired by McCann-Erickson in 1996, is in discussions to acquire Shandwick, PR NEWS has learned.

Company executives, including Weber CEO Larry Weber, wouldn't confirm or deny whether the company is looking to buy Shandwick. But several unnamed sources confirmed that Weber is looking to buy London-based Shandwick, which has yet to recoup from less-than-hardy revenue showings in recent years.

Weber's recent acqusitions include the 25-person Bonn, Germany-based PR firm, pr bonn Public Relations GmbH on June 22; Ryan McGinn, a 40-person public affairs firm in Arlington, Va., on March 24; and the Neva Group, a high-tech firm with offices in Cambridge, Mass., and London, on Jan. 6.

The company is headed by Executive Chairman Lord Chadlington who founded Shandwick in London in 1974 and has continued his patriarchal influence over the agency.

Shandwick is also enduring residuals from restructuring initiated earlier this year when two former executives left.

It is striving as well to rebrand its businesses under two umbrella names: Shandwick and Golin Harris.

Shandwick posted $126.9 million in operating income in the U.S. in 1997 and $15.7 million in operating profit - up over $112.1 million and $14.4 million, respectively, in 1996. It employs 800 people worldwide. Weber had annual fees of $71.5 million in 1997 and has 650 employees.

Scott Meyer, Shandwick CEO, did not return calls.