Design Bridge directors have strongly denied that the group is courting ad agency Ammirati Puris Lintas as a buyer, despite rumours of an impending deal.
Sources close to the companies say Design Bridge directors are keen to find a large parent group before missing the opportunity to sell the consultancy. Both parties deny a buyout is planned. “[Design Bridge] is a company we work with. At this stage there is no question of us buying a design group,” says an APL spokeswoman.
Design Bridge finance director Mike Hawkins says staff have visited APL’s New York headquarters in the last week to discuss extensions to joint working practices, but insists: “We are not on the market.”
Design Bridge managing director David Rivett confirms that the group is engaged in a joint pitch with APL for an unnamed account, and says working agreements the companies have in India and Indonesia may be extended to cover the US. But he too denies Design Bridge is seeking a buyer.
The consultancy, which now has 97 UK-based staff and an office in The Netherlands, is perceived as too large to continue in its present state by a number of industry observers. “A deal would make sense,” says one.
And a number of older Design Bridge directors are keen to “cash in their chips” by selling the company now, says one former staff member. He sees APL as the natural suitor for the group – the two companies already share high-profile accounts such as Unilever and are on good terms.
“The window to sell won’t be open for ever. If APL don’t buy they will find someone else,” he says, adding, “Design Bridge has been on the market for a while.”
See News Analysis, page 8