IPG merges sponsorship companies

Advantage International, the second-biggest sports agency in the world, has taken over rival sponsorship agency, the Lowe & Partners-owned Orbit International.

Both companies are wholly-owned by US-based advertising conglomerate the Interpublic Group (IPG) (MW May 22).

IPG bought Advantage along with a 60 per cent stake in Alan Pascoe International (API), Europe’s biggest sports agency, in May.

IPG owns three advertising groups: Lowe & Partners, Ammirati Puris Lintas, and McCann Erickson.

Advantage and API are expected to merge next summer and challenge the dominance of the biggest agency in the world, Mark McCormack’s International Management Group.

However, the question remains of whether Advantage chairman Frank Craighill or API chairman Alan Pascoe, will head the new group.

Observers say adding Orbit to Advantage rather than API tips the balance in favour of Craighill taking the top job.

Orbit has organised Whitbread’s Stella Artois men’s tennis tournament since the beginning of the competition. It has NatWest and British Airways as clients.

Ian White, Orbit’s chairman, will join the Advantage board when the takeover goes ahead in October. No job losses are expected from the move.

Clifford Bloxham, group account director at Advantage, says: “The businesses are complementary and we are looking to add staff. We are aiming to grow.”

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