by Herman Manson (@marklives) Market speculation that Draftfcb is in advanced discussions to buy Cape Town based digital agency Hello Computer has been notched up a level as the parties are believed to have entered a due diligence phase.

Draftfcb isn’t allowed to confirm or deny market speculation as it is part of the Interpublic Group of Companies which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. While any potential acquisition by Draftfcb South Africa is unlikely to affect the stock price in New York the local company has to abide by the regulations governing listed companies there says Draftfcb South Africa Group CEO John Dixon.

It is unclear how a purchase, should it in fact take place, would affect Mesh – the digital agency already owned by Draftfcb.

Hello Computer was launched in 2005 by its ECD Mark Tomlinson and employs a team of 40 in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The agency won a Grand Prix at the 2011 Loerie Awards for work it did for Musica. The Loerie Awards 2011 official rankings ranked the agency as the top digital agency of the year.

Hello Computer Managing Director David Moffatt declined to comment for this article but admitted he was aware of wide-spread speculation in the market relating to the possible sale of Hello Computer tp Draftfcb.

In an interview a year ago Tomlinson commented that Hello Computer believes clients are increasingly seeing the value in specialist digital agencies, especially as direct relationships remove additional ‘management’ mark-ups by ad agencies. This helps make Hello Computer financially competitive and skirts “fundamental structural issues” many ad agencies face, Tomlinson said at the time.

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