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The latest news from the special event industry

Jack Morton Acquires Division of Caribiner International New York-based experiential marketing communications company The Jack Morton Co. has signed an agreement to acquire substantially all assets of the communications division of New York-based Caribiner International, an integrated communications company that delivers meetings, events and digital media worldwide. Those assets include Caribiner's subsidiary businesses in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Asia. The acquisition, which was expected to close in April, does not include the remaining assets of Caribiner, consisting of its audiovisual services businesses.

Jack Morton is acquiring the division for $90 million in cash, according to Carol Simpson, Jack Morton marketing vice president.. "It's a unique opportunity for us to grow our brand further and faster," she says. "With one stride we can become the leader in experiential marketing."

Simpson says the year 2000 revenues of the combined companies are expected to top $425 million. Caribiner's 650 communications division employees raise Jack Morton's employee base to 1,200. Some offices will be consolidated in cities such as New York and San Francisco where both companies have a presence, she adds.

Philip H. Geier Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Jack Morton parent company Interpublic Group, says the market for experiential communications continues to expand dramatically. "The market is expected to show strong double-digit growth over the next five years, and Jack Morton itself has a five-year compounded annual growth rate of nearly 30 percent," he says.

As for future acquisitions, Simpson says: "I am sure we will be looking at other opportunities to add value to our company and our clients. Global presence is important as more internal brands are looking for resources to implement their brand programs worldwide."

The Jack Morton Co., 641 Avenue of the Americas, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10011; 212/727-0400; Web site:

Food Industry Beefs Up The job market for executive, professional and sales people in the food industry remains strong, according to a recent hiring survey of 4,100 executives in the industry. Cleveland-based Management Recruiters International, a subsidiary of Philadelphia-based CDI, conducted the survey.

Of the executives responsible for hiring in the food industry, almost half-48.4 percent-plan to increase their staffs in the first half of 2000, up 7.5 percentage points from 40.9 percent for the second half of 1999. Another 42.7 percent plan to maintain current staff sizes, according to the survey.

MRI president Allen Salikof says staff demand is high because the qualified candidate pool is not as great as the number of openings. "We are seeing a number of people leaving jobs in the traditional industry and going to e-commerce companies," he says. "And we are being called on from both sides-to replace those people leaving old-line companies and also to staff the e-commerce start-up companies."

MRI, 200 Public Square, 31st Floor, Cleveland, OH 44114; 800/875-4000; Web site:

Off-site catering company Ferree Florsheim Catering of Chicago has merged with Lincolnwood, Ill.-based caterer Food For Thought. Florsheim president Anne Ferree and vice president Susan Florsheim will work as party consultants for Food For Thought. 7001 Ridgeway, Lincolnwood, IL 60712; 847/982-2608.

Great Performances, an off-site catering and event planning firm based in New York, has become the exclusive caterer for weddings at Rye, N.Y.-based Wainwright House, a replica of the Chateau de Raincheval 17th-century French mansion. Great Performances also announced a four-year extension of its exclusive catering arrangement with Wave Hill, a Bronx, N.Y.-based venue featuring gardens and views of the Hudson River. 287 Spring St., New York, NY 10013; 212/727-2424; Web site:

Artistic dessert maker Chocolates a la Carte has moved its headquarters from Sylmar, Calif., to a 110,000-square-foot facility in Valencia, Calif. The company will move its Cerritos, Calif., plant into the new facility in May. 28455 Livingston Ave., Valencia, CA 91355; 800/818-2462, 661/257-3700; Web site:

The shareholders of Sturtevant, Wis.-based Johnson Worldwide Associates, parent company of Binghamton, N.Y.-based Eureka! Tents, have approved a name change to Johnson Outdoors to reflect the corporation's shift to manufacturing and marketing outdoor recreation products. The company's trading symbol changed from JWAIA (Nasdaq) to JOUT on March 1. 1326 Willow Road, Sturtevant, WI 53177; 414/884-1500; Web site:

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