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HHCL & Partners' long-awaited merger with Sir Tim Bell's publicly listed Chime Communications promises to be one of the most intriguing partnerships of recent years (Campaign, last week).
Financed by WPP, which takes a 29.9 per cent stake in the enlarged Chime, the deal will make millionaires of the five founding partners -- Rupert Howell, Axel Chaldecott, Steve Henry, Adam Lury and Robin Price.
But on top of that it dramatically broadens HHCL's horizons. In one swoop, the ten-year old agency gains a public relations sister (Lowe Bell), an international network and public status, all without upsetting its independence or that of its subsidiaries, the HHCL Brassiere and In Real Life, or its joint venture, Michaelides & Bednash. Howell and Price, meanwhile, realise their ambitions to run a public company, joining the Chime board, with Howell becoming joint chief executive alongside Chime's deputy chairman, Piers Pottinger.
Rupert, over the past two years you've considered several options for HHCL. Why go for this one?
RH As an agency we were too small to float. But we weren't interested in offers from existing advertising networks to fold …