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Cordiant Communications Group was a U.S. advertising conglomerate in business until 2003, when it was taken over by WPP.

As of 2001 Cordiant Communications Group was considered to be the eighth largest advertising group worldwide, with an estimated gross income of US$1.2 billion and billings of around US$13.4 billion.

The volatility of the industry and malaise in key industry sectors resulted in considerably lower figures two years later, with the group being acquired by rival WPP in July 2003 for a mere US$17 million (plus assumption of debts).


Cordiant traces its origins to the agency founded by Ted Bates (1901-72) in New York in 1940 and the Saatchi & Saatchi agency founded in London in 1970 by Charles Saatchi (1943- ), Maurice Saatchi (1946- ) and Tim Bell.

Saatchi grew into one of the world's largest advertising conglomerates during the 1980s, culminating in a bid for the UK Midland banking group, but came close to collapse after its expansion saddled the firm with huge debts.

A sense of the pace of its acquisitions - often partly/fully financed with paper and tied to 'earn-outs' - is provided in the chronology below.

The Saatchi brothers left in 1995 - subsequently forming M&C Saatchi - and the group was renamed Cordiant, embracing the Saatchi & Saatchi agency, Bates Worldwide and other entities.

The Saatchi agency was later spun off (and acquired by Publicis), with Cordiant going on to buy a range of marketing and internet consultancies at great expense, leading to speculation in 2002 and 2003 that it would be split up or absorbed by a major competitor.

Management tensions and financial losses resulted in a successful takeover bid by WPP (headed by former Saatchi associate Martin Sorrell) in 2003. Source: [1]


Key Cordiant units included -

Further reading

  • Ivan Fallon, The Brothers: The Saatchi & Saatchi Story (Chicago: Contemporary 1989)
  • Kevin Goldman, Conflicting Accounts: The Creation and Crash of the Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Empire (New York: Simon & Schuster 1997)
  • Philip Kleinman, The Saatchi and Saatchi story (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1989)
  • Alison Fendley Saatchi & Saatchi: The Inside Story (New York: Arcade 1996).


1935 Richard Compton forms Compton agency

1940 Ted Bates opens agency in New York

1943 Hay Group management consultancy founded

1960 Compton buys 51% of UK agency SG Garland, forms Garland-Compton

1970 Maurice Saatchi, Charles Saatchi and Tim Bell found Saatchi & Saatchi

1971 Fitch & Company brand and design consultancy founded

1972 Saatchi buys Brogan Developers, propeerty development

1972 buys EG Dawes

1974 buys George J Smith

1976 Saatchi merges with Compton UK

1978 buys Hall Advertising (Edinburgh) for £1m

1978 unsuccessful bid for Collett Dickenson Pearce (London)

1979 gains prominence in Margaret Thatcher's election campaign

1979 buys O'Kennedy-Brindley (Dublin) for £0.3m

1980 launches The Sales Promotion Agency

1981 buys Dorland for £7m

1982 buys Compton US for US$56.8m

1983 buys McCaffrey & McCall for US$20m

1983 buys Hunter Advertising (Dublin)

1983 buys Gough Waterhouse (Sydney)

1984 buys Cochrane Chase Livingstone (California)

1984 buys Michael Bungey DFS

1984 buys RJA (Netherlands)

1984 buys Harrison Cowley (UK)

1984 buys Yankelovich Skelly & White market research

1984 buys McBer & Co market research

1984 buys management consultancy The Hay Group for US$125m

1984 buys Hedger Mitchell Stark (London) for £3m

1985 buys Siegel & Gale

1985 buys Marlboro Marketing (New York)

1985 buys The Kleid Company

1985 buys Wong Lam (Hong Kong)

1985 buys Hayhurst (Canada)

1985 buys Campaign (New Zealand)

1985 buys Sharps (UK)

1985 buys Granfield Rork Collins (London) for est £10m

1985 buys Humphreys Bull & Barker

1985 buys Rowland Company (New York)

1985 buys Infocom Group (later renamed ICM)

1985 buys Clancy Shulman Associates (US)

1985 buys Kingsway Public Relations (UK)

1986 buys Dancer, Fitzgerald & Sample for US$75m

1986 buys Backer & Spielvogel for US$101m

1986 buys Ted Bates for US$450m

1986 buys Peterson & Co (US trial litigation advisers) for US$123m

1986 buys Campbell Mithun

1986 Martin Sorrell leave Saatchi, builds WPP Group

1986 Financial Dynamics PR firm founded in London

1987 Saatchi & Saatchi makes takeover bid for Midland Bank (assets US$77bn)

1987 considers bid for Hill Samuel merchant bank

1987 buys Cleveland Consulting Associates (US)

1987 Zenith Media formed

1987 Broad Street Associates buys Financial Dynamics for £5m

1989 Saatchi sells Peterson & Co

1989 sells Info Consulting Group for US$12m

1989 sells Gamma International software group for US$12m

1990 sells Hay Group to MBO for £48.2m

1992 Terence Conran buys 25% stake in Fitch for £1m

1994 sells 50% of CME KHBB to Interpublic for US$40m

1995 Saatchi brothers ousted from Saatchi & Saatchi, form M&C Saatchi

1995 Saatchi & Saatchi renamed Cordiant

1995 buys Laing Henry

1997 Cordiant splits into two separately listed advertising and marketing companies: Cordiant Communications Group and Saatchi & Saatchi (latter absorbed by Publicis in 2000)

1997 Cordiant buys National Research Group from VNU

1998 reports of approaches by WPP, Interpublic and Omnicom not substantiated

1998 GGT sells Financial Dynamics to an MBO for £8m

1999 US marketing group Lighthouse Holdings buys Financial Dynamics for £40m

1999 Lighthouse buys Fitch for £27m

1999 Lighthouse buys UK marketing agency Communicator

1999 Lighthouse buys Chicago agency Davidson Marketing

1999 Cordiant takes majority stake in Bates Clarion Bombay, Calcutta and Delhi

2000 Codiant buys Lighthouse Global Network (inc Financial Dynamics and Fitch design agency) for £392m

2000 buys The Leonhardt Group

2000 buys Donino, White & Partners

2000 merges Communicator with 141 Worldwide to form 141 Communicator

2000 buys US e-business consultancy MicroArts Corp for £63m

2000 buys Healthworld marketing for £113m

2000 buys Verdino Bates Fernando of Argentina

2001 buys Bamber Forsyth corporate identity & design consultancy for £30m

2001 buys 80% of German marketing consultancy InterCom

2001 Cordiant buys Bulletin International for £8.5m

2001 buys Gallagher & Kelly Public Relations in Dublin for £5.6m

2003 sells 71% of Australian agency George Patterson Bates to venture capital firm Pacific Equity Partners for £40m?

2003 WPP successfully bids for Cordiant

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