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Lowe to buy 303

Nick_Cleaver

Cleaver

Lowe Australia is set to acquire Australia’s largest independent agency, 303, Mumbrella can reveal.

The deal will see 303 assume control of the merged operation, led by CEO Nick Cleaver.

Cleaver denied the news. He told Mumbrella: “Being the size we are, and with the credentials we’ve got, we are bound to be the focus of speculation like this. But it’s not true.”

Pearson was unavailable for comment.

Having won a grand prix at Cannes for Lynx Jet in 2006, Lowe’s fortunes have since nose-dived. The Interpublic agency has lost clients such as Coca-Cola and Nestle, and now employs around 30 people. It was the subject of an ugly legal case earlier this year.

By contrast 303, which launched 21 years ago, employs 110 staff in its Perth and Sydney offices. The agency moved to secure its top talent earlier this week, electing Clive Bingwa and planning head Derry Simpson to its executive board.

The deal leaves few large independent agencies on the market. Last week a majority stake in Host was sold to French group Havas.

Prior to the GFC, BMF was sold to Photon in 2007 for a reported $25m. And in 2008 Naked Communications also sold to Photon for what was reported to be around $30m.

The Monkeys – rebadged from Three Drunk Monkeys this week – is now Australia’s largest indepedent agency with around 70 people.

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