Ammirati Puris Lintas is reeling after the loss of its &£35m UK Rover business, which was awarded to M&C Saatchi last week.
The extra business catapults M&C Saatchi into the top five of UK agencies with combined billings of over &£250m.
It won the account after pitching against APL, HHCL & Partners and WCRS, which last month scooped the &£30m international brief for the launch of two models, the Rover 25 and 45 models (MW August 12).
Rover has all but severed its long-standing relationship with APL, wiping out nearly half of the IPG-owned UK agency’s billings, taking an estimated &£65m chunk out of its total billings of &£140m.
But APL insists the Rover work accounts for just 15 per cent of its revenue and points out it has retained the Mini and MG accounts, worth &£4m.
The loss has fuelled speculation that APL will seek an agency merger as the departure of the Rover business removes a potential conflict with other agencies’ car accounts. Speculation has grown that APL will be open to a merger with Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters. But rumours that IPG will fold the APL network into its Lowe Group subsidiary have been strongly denied by all parties.
Chris Jaques, chairman of APL Europe, says: “This takes a huge weight off our shoulders. It has been a period of instability for everyone.”
He says APL will continue to try entering the top ten of UK agencies, which it can do through organic growth.
Jaques denies the loss will lead to senior management changes, but accepts that there could be redundancies at the agency. But he says APL will continue working on Rover for the next six months.