Admen sell out and hit the jackpot

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The Independent Online
FOUR DIRECTORS of a British advertising firm wake up today worth a combined total of nearly pounds 20m after their company was bought up by a US group in a pounds 346m deal.

Peter Mead, chairman of Abbott Mead Vickers, will be worth about pounds 9m, while his co-founder, Adrian Vickers, who is vice-chairman, will see the value of his stake climb to nearly pounds 7m. Michael Baulk, group chief executive, will get pounds 1m of shares to go with his annual salary of pounds 600,000 and Andrew Robertson, managing director, is also likely to supplement his salary of pounds 483,000 with pounds 1m in shares, while a further 70 staff members from across the group's associate companies will share in the windfall.

The agreed takeover by the firm Omnicom values each AMV share at 448p, 24 per cent higher than the company's closing price before the talks were announced.

Those likely to benefit include the PR executive Matthew Freud, son of the former MP Sir Clement and brother of the broadcaster Emma. Mr Freud sold his company, Freud Communications, to AMV four years ago in a deal that earned him pounds 1m but he has stayed on and could net a further pounds 4m, depending on business performance. His early clients included The Big Breakfast, from where he developed a longstanding friendship and business relationship with Chris Evans.

David Abbott, the agency's long-time creative head and final member of the founding troika, retired as agency chairman in October but it is thought he will garner some profit through the incentive shares he retains.

Through its award-winning campaigns for Volvo, Sainsbury's and Yellow Pages, Abbott Mead Vickers can reasonably be labelled Middle England's favourite agency. In a recent survey of clients for the trade magazine Marketing Week, the agency was named as the first a company would go to with a new piece of business. Its reputation has been founded on clear strategic thinking, creativity - its recent work includes the Carlo the Swimmer commercial for Guinness - and attentiveness to client needs.

While advertising has been the company's most high- profile work, it has diversified, with acquisitions in PR, direct marketing, contract publishing and sales promotion. Omnicom, which also owns Lowe Howard-Spink in the UK, is the largest advertising and marketing-services provider in the world and has had a stake in AMV since 1991.

Business, page 22