Publicis to Purchase DeWitt Media

DeWitt claims $350 million in billings a year.
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Continuing its buying spree in the U.S.,

Publicis S.A.

of France, one of the biggest ad holding companies in the world, said Tuesday it would acquire privately held

DeWitt Media

, one of the largest independent media buying agencies in the country.

The deal to acquire New York-based Dewitt, the terms of which were not disclosed, comes weeks after Publicis

acquired Minneapolis-based creative hot shop

Fallon McElligott

for roughly $120 million.

The new deal certainly bolsters Publicis' media presence. The company claims some $6.5 billion in global account billings, but its media unit,

Optimedia International

, is a small player both in the U.S. and in Europe.

Publicis said it will fold Dewitt into Optimedia International to form a new $1.25 billion U.S. division. Gene DeWitt, who founded his firm in 1984, will manage Optimedia International in the U.S. as chairman and chief executive officer.

Acquiring DeWitt also brings German automaker

BMW's

North American accounts under one umbrella, worth roughly $120 million in annual media spending. Publicis' New York office handles BMW's U.S. regional dealership ads; Fallon handles U.S. brand advertising; and DeWitt is the media planning and buying shop for clients in the U.S.

DeWitt claims $350 million in billings a year from clients including

Bacardi USA

,

Lexmark

(LXK)

and the

National Basketball Association.

Publicis' recent spate of U.S. acquisitions includes the purchase of marketing-services firm

Frankel & Co.

of Chicago, the former

EvansGroup

of Salt Lake City (now

Publicis Dialog

), and a 49% stake in

Burrell Communications

of Chicago.

Publicis S.A.'s U.S. operation is composed of two networks:

Publicis

has offices in Chicago, Dallas, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Indianapolis, Boise, Idaho, and San Francisco;

Publicis & Hal Riney

has offices in San Francisco, Atlanta and New York.