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TribalDDB Considering Acquisitions

TribalDDB, the interactive agency of DDB Worldwide, confirmed Friday that it's slimming down in preparation to bulk up.

The company eliminated 24 positions, or about 5 percent of its global workforce, in an effort to eliminate redundancies that would occur from the upcoming acquisition of an unspecified competitor.

"We had to make some tough decisions," said a spokesperson at the agency. "The purpose was to optimize our fiscal resources for mergers and acquisitions ... that we're planning."

The spokesperson declined to respond to speculation on which of its competitors it plans to acquire. However, there's a long list of potential targets, made newly affordable by the softness of the online advertising sector.

For one, Omnicom Group, the parent of DDB Worldwide, has investments in several prominent, publicly traded interactive shops, including Alley-based Razorfish and Agency.com. Those two in particular have fallen on hard times -- with stock valuations more than 90 percent off their 52-week highs.

Omnicom already has been giving signs that it's ready to do some reorganization among its struggling interactive portfolio. It recently moved the troubled San Francisco-based i-shop Organic closer to another of its agencies, BBDO Worldwide, though the exact terms of the "strategic alliance" between the two are unknown.

There's also chunks of battered Chicago interactive shop marchFIRST still in play, after the firm sold large portions of its assets to Havas Advertising and incubator divine, Inc. marchFIRST clearly needs cash: it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week. Among the money it owes is a sizable loan repayment to American National Bank; that loan was slated for Monday.

"Given the current marketplace conditions, we can take advantage of some of the opportunities out there," said TribalDDB's spokesperson.