True North pairs Delaney Fletcher and Banks Hoggins O’Shea/FCB

US advertising agency group True North Communications is likely to merge London agencies Delaney Fletcher Bozell and Banks Hoggins O’Shea/FCB in the next week.

The move is part of a global merger of True North’s two agency networks, Foote Cone & Belding Worldwide and Bozell Worldwide, which have combined billings of &£5.6bn.

Industry observers tip Banks Hoggins O’Shea/FCB chairman and chief executive John Banks to become chairman of the enlarged agency, with Delaney Fletcher chief executive Mark Lund perhaps taking the chief executive post.

It is unclear what position Delaney Fletcher chairman Greg Delaney will take.

Talks between Chicago-based True North chairman David Bell and the London agencies are continuing.

Senior figures at both London agencies, in particular Delaney Fletcher, are trying to convince Bell to reconsider. They argue both have strong managements, and that there are a number of conflicting accounts.

Banks Hoggins O’Shea/FCB does work for Weetabix, John Brown Publishing and IT company 3Com, while Delaney Fletcher has Del Monte Foods, IPC Magazines and Unisys on its client roster.

Many at Banks Hoggins O’Shea/ FCB recognise that the long-term cost savings associated with the merger will inevitably force the agencies together.

Bell and the board meet this week. A True North insider says: “This is not an ordinary board meeting. They will discuss the future of the agency networks.”

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