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Interpublic Invests $20 Million In Icon Medialab

Advertising giant The Interpublic Group of Companies Inc. Wednesday made a $20 million equity investment in interactive agency Icon Medialab International AB of Sweden.

Interpublic said the move would "advance both companies as global leaders in the delivery of Internet strategies, interactive communications and technology services."

The agreement is subject to approval by Icon Medialab's shareholders. With more than 400 employees in eight European countries, Asia and Silicon Valley, Icon Medialab is one of Europe's independent Internet consulting and marketing communications firms. Interpublic is one of the world's largest organizations of advertising and marketing communications companies.

In addition to Interpublic's equity investment, which will support Icon Medialab's rapid expansion, the alignment includes cooperation agreements that will benefit clients of both companies, as well as options for additional investment by Interpublic. With an initial equity position of just under 20 percent, Interpublic will become Icon's largest shareholder and also will receive representation on Icon Medialab's board of directors.

"Interpublic's strategic alignment with Icon Medialab opens a new chapter in delivering Internet and e-business solutions to marketers throughout the world," said Philip H. Geier Jr., Interpublic's chairman and chief executive officer.

"In the digital economy, building brands requires going beyond traditional media in order to migrate businesses and their customers to the Web. Icon Medialab has done this successfully for an impressive list of global companies."

"It's a win-win for both companies and their clients," said Franco Fedeli, Icon Medialab's chief executive officer.

Interpublic will designate Icon Medialab as a "preferred provider" of interactive services to Interpublic's major agencies and companies.

As a first step, the two companies will join forces in Norway, one of the world's most wired nations. The well-regarded Thunder House, the interactive division of Interpublic's JBR-McCann agency in Oslo, will merge with Icon Medialab Norway, creating an 80-person Internet firm.

The Interpublic Group of Companies, with more than $30 billion in advertising billings, is comprised of McCann-Erickson WorldGroup, Ammirati Puris Lintas, The Lowe Group, DraftWorldwide, Western Initiative Media Worldwide, Octagon, International Public Relations, The Allied Communications Group and other related companies.