'Birds of a feather flock together,' according to the old adage. And London-headquartered Incepta Group certainly has much the same plumage as Huntsworth Group with which it is now in "advanced" merger talks.

Both are publicly listed agency holding companies with a strong PR orientation; both are led by chairmen with gilt-edged establishment associations and platinum-bound contact books; and neither harbours illusions about its long term survival chances in an increasingly consolidated, US-dominated industry.

Incepta, chaired by former Conservative cabinet minister Francis Maude, is the globe's twelfth largest agency holding group by 2004 revenues ($254.1m; €194.34m; £134.1m). Its stable includes the Citigate financial and corporate PR business plus marketing services operators Dynamo, Finex and The RED Consultancy.

Huntsworth is led by one of the smoothest operators in PR circles, Lord Peter Huntsworth who, as plain Peter Gummer (brother of ex-Conservative cabinet minister John), founded and ran Shandwick Public Relations before selling it to Interpublic. Among its operating units are PR shops Holmes & Marchant, Grayling and Harrison Cowley. Annual revenues were £22.1m in 2003.

A joint statement issued Monday read: "Although these discussions are at an advanced stage, there can be no certainty that they will lead to a transaction in due course. The terms of any such merger would be based on recent share price averages."

Data sourced from BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff