Chime to pay £43 million for motorsports marketing firm JMI

Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - British sports marketing group Chime Communications PLC is to boost its presence in motor racing through a $70.6 million (43.5 million pounds) deal to buy Just Marketing Inc (JMI).

Chime said its major shareholder WPP , the world's largest advertising group by revenue, was looking to sell its 20.1 percent stake following the deal.

JMI, founded by American former professional driver Zak Brown, arranges sponsorship, hospitality and rights deals in Formula One, NASCAR and IndyCar motorsports.

"This acquisition will give us a strong foothold in the United States, one of the largest sports marketing markets in the world, and will accelerate Chime's strategy of becoming a global leader in sports marketing," Chime Chief Executive Christopher Satterthwaite said in a joint statement with JMI.

Chime said it planned to raise 25.6 million pounds ($41.4 million) by selling about 8.5 million new shares to financial institutions, including existing shareholders, by October 30 to help pay for the deal.

It is placing the shares at 300p each, a discount to Thursday's close of 323p, and they will represent about 9 per cent of the company.

Chime looks set to part company with WPP as a consequence of the JMI deal.

WPP also owns around 20 percent of JMI. It had supported the takeover but wanted to raise its stake in Chime to 29.9 percent as part of the transaction, a move rejected by the Chime board, Chime said.

"WPP has now stated that if Chime proceeds with the acquisition on its current terms, it is WPP's current intention to explore a sale of its stake in Chime," it added.

A spokesman for WPP, Chime's biggest shareholder according to Thomson Reuters data, was not immediately available for comment.

JMI had operating profit of $4.7 million in 2012 on revenues of $40.8 million.

Chime has focused increasingly on sports marketing since selling off its public relations business last year.

Former Olympic track champion Sebastian Coe, one of the architects of London's successful 2012 Games, is chairman of its sports marketing arm after Chime bought his consultancy business a year ago.

Chime said it expected strong growth in operating income next year when the Winter Olympics are held in Russia, the football World Cup is staged in Brazil and Glasgow hosts the Commonwealth Games.

(Reporting by Keith Weir; Editing by Pravin Char)

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