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Interpublic Invests in Icon Medialab

The Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. recently made a significant investment of $20 million in the Swedish based Net consulting company Icon Medialab International AB, to help its European growth.

Interpublic chairman and chief executive officer Philip H. Geier, Jr. said this strategic alignment with Icon Medialab is a new chapter in delivering Internet and e-business solutions to marketers throughout the world. By paying $20 million, Interpublic gets 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 has an option for equity investment up to 44 percent of the stock.

"In the digital economy, building brands requires going beyond traditional media in order to migrate businesses and their customers to the Web," said Geier. "Icon Medialab has done this successfully for an impressive list of global companies. Our partnership with Icon Medialab will benefit Interpublic's agencies and their clients by powerfully combining strategic, communications and technology leadership."

"Interpublics international credibility, companies and resources give Icon Medialab unlimited capabilities to leverage its leadership in Europe into the US marketplace and to service global brands even more effectively. It's a win-win for both companies and their clients," added Franco Fedeli, CEO of Icon Medialab.

Under the strategic partnership, Interpublic will designate Icon Medialab as a preferred provider of interactive services to Interpublic's major agencies and companies. This cooperation will extend and deepen the interactive capabilities that Interpublic's agencies and companies can offer to their clients, while providing Icon Medialab access to Interpublics's extensive global infrastructure.

As a first step in bringing the benefits of the alignment to specific markets, the two companies will join forces in Norway.

Icon Medialab said it intends to aggressively expand in Europe and is expected within a few weeks to present one of several acquisitions in countries including France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Icon Medialab is headquarted in Stockholm and operates in 10 markets with more than 400 employees. The company reported net sales in 1998 of SEK 131 million (US$16 million). Icon Medialab stock is traded on the Stock Exchange in Stockholm and was up 5 percent after the deal was announced.

The Interpublic Group of Companies is one of the largest organizations of advertising, marketing communications and interactive services companies in the world. Interpublic operates in 127 countries with more than 35,000 employees, generating nearly $4 billion in gross income.

The deal is subject to approval at Icon Medialab's General Shareholders Meeting on April 27, 1999.