Publicis already held 49 per cent of BBH shares. The holding company also announced that it has acquired 100 per cent ownership in NEOGAMA/BBH in Brazil—34 per cent from BBH and 66 per cent from that agency's founder, Alexandre Gama and his partners.
The Board of the BBH holding company will consist of three members of the Publicis Groupe Management Board – Maurice Lévy, Jean-Yves Naouri and Jean-Michel Etienne – as well as Steve King, global chief executive officer, ZenithOptimedia, Nigel Bogle, Sir John Hegarty and Simon Sherwood.
This board will delegate full responsibility and authority for the day-to-day management and operation to a BBH global management team led by Gwyn Jones.
On the India implications of the news, Subhash Kamath, managing partner, BBH India, said, "There won't be any structural changes in India. BBH India will continue to report to BBH Global."
In an exclusive phone interview with Campaign Asia-Pacific, founding partner Nigel Bogle acknowledged that many agencies have failed to retain their individuality when the first generation handed it over to the next, but emphasised that this would not be the case with BBH.
"We have spent 30 years building this company and it's really important to me that BBH keeps getting better," he said.
Several key factors will ensure this, Bogle continued. The network's "home-grown management" will ensure seamless promotion from within, guaranteeing the agency a leadership that "carries and exemplifies the business and who know the BBH brand inside and out, who have built the brand with us".
Bogle and founding creative partner Sir John Hegarty will remain active on client business but will transfer executive responsibility to a new management team.
Hegarty has appointed Alexandre Gama to succeed him as worldwide chief creative officer (WCCO). Simon Sherwood, previously group chief executive officer, takes over as group chairman. Gwyn Jones becomes group chief executive officer and Neil Munn, CEO of BBH’s brand ventures company Zag, takes on the group chief operating officer role in addition to his current role.
Bogle and Hegarty also agreed to the acquisition because they wanted to attain "financial realisation, not just for me and John, but for the 50 or so shareholders around the world who have served the company for decades".
"It wasn't about getting the most money either—if so we could have just held an auction!" Bogle said. "It was about doing a deal that was right for the future. We've had a long relationship with Publicis, and they were the right choice."
In light of this, Bogle and Hegarty have negotiated a binding agreement that will grant the agency an exceptional amount of autonomy. "We've spent time with Maurice Lévy [chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe], and he fully understands that the lighter the hand on our shoulder, the better we'll be," Bogle said.
In the statement announcing the acquisition, Lévy took pains to provide assurance that the agency will be given control of its own destiny.
"We have decided, together with Nigel, John and Alexandre, to engineer an integration that will preserve and protect their specific culture, their working methods, and the characteristics of the agencies through an approach of 'autonomy inside' the Groupe," Lévy said. "Thus all the ingredients that have enabled the success of BBH and NEOGAMA/BBH will be protected, today, tomorrow and in the long term. BBH’s management will continue to be independent and the network will develop in its own way, in its own style, while benefiting from the support of Publicis Groupe’s resources to accelerate its growth both geographically and via the expansion of its capabilities into more diverse areas. I’m very proud that the founders and teams of BBH and NEOGAMA/BBH have chosen to join us.”
Lévy's statement, commented Bogle, indicates the degree of respect he has for BBH's values and brand. "I don't think any agency has negotiated what we have."