Grey Global Confirms Exploring Sale Options

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Grey Global Group Inc., one of the last freestanding big ad agency brands, confirmed yesterday that Goldman, Sachs & Co. and JP Morgan are helping it explore "alternatives focused on enhancing shareholder value."


The New York company said there was no guarantee that examining options would lead to a transaction, nor would there be any assurance of the terms or form of any such transaction.


"The company did indicate, however, that it does not intend to pursue a sale of individual business units in connection with this process," a statement said.


In other words, Grey Global was not open to the sale of divisions like Grey Worldwide, Grey Healthcare, Grey Direct, GCI, MediaCom Worldwide, G2 Worldwide, APCO Worldwide, Wing Latino Group or J. Brown Agency. Rather, any sale would have to be of the entire group.


Its worldwide net income rose 59.3 percent last year to $29.1 million on commission and fees of $1.3 billion, up 9 percent over 2002. A publicly quoted agency, Grey Global is headed by president/CEO and largest shareholder Ed Meyer.


Grey Global units worldwide last year added clients like Coca-Cola Co., Monsanto, Allianz, Johnson & Johnson and AOL. It also gained more work from old clients like Procter & Gamble Co., Novartis, Volkswagen, British American Tobacco and GlaxoSmithKline.


The announcement of a possible sale followed media reports a few weeks back that Grey Global was looking for a buyer. The company would not confirm at the time. It may keep quiet in the future as well. In its statement, Grey Global said "it does not expect to disclose developments with respect to its exploration of alternatives unless required."


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