Future of WPP arm in doubt

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The Independent Online
THE MEDIA Partnership, the advertising space buyer jointly owned by WPP Group and its US counterpart Omnicom, is facing an uncertain future following a secret review of the venture by Omnicom, writes Neil Thapar.

TMP was set up by the two advertising groups in response to the growth of specialist media buying in Europe. The partnership enables the groups' creative agencies to offer centralised space buying and research for clients.

But there are mounting fears that Omnicom could pull out of the venture following its purchase of a 9 per cent stake in Aegis, the quoted media buying group, last October. A strategic review by Omnicom, which owns the BBDO and BMP DDB Needham agency networks, is thought to have come out against the venture.

WPP, which last week confirmed that its banking syndicate was planning to sell almost 200 million shares, is expected to report interim pre-tax profits up from pounds 24m to pounds 36m on Wednesday. Staff costs have fallen following a further 400 job cuts, and net debt is down from pounds 327m to pounds 280m.

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