PARIS--Burson-Marsteller has acquired i&e, after France's largest independent PR firm put itself up for sale last year.

The Holmes Report revealed last year that the 110-person firm had begun talks with a number of global agencies, ahead of the retirement of its two co-chairmen, Jean-Pierre Beaudoin and Tristan Follin.

The company will merge with Burson-Marsteller’s French operation. Together they will trade as Burson-Marsteller i&e. The combined operation will be led by Philippe Pailliart, currently CEO of Burson-Marsteller France.

According to a WPP statement, i&e's unaudited revenues for 2011 were approximately 13m euros with gross assets of approximately 5m euros at the same date. 

Beaudoin and Follin, together owned around 85 percent of i&e. The duo took over the 50-year-old Parisian firm in 1984 and have grown it six-fold since then.

As Burson-Marsteller i&e, we will become the premier agency in France with more than 150 employees and continue to help clients build trust and strengthen their relationships with stakeholders in France and around the world,” said Jeremy Galbraith, CEO of Burson-Marsteller EMEA.

I&E Consultants reported fee income of around $18 million in 2010, according to the Holmes Report 2011 Global Rankings, making it the biggest privately-owned French PR firm. That figure represented a drop of 15 percent on the year before, due largely to the sale of its Opinion Valley subsidiary at the end of 2009. On a like-for-like basis, fees dropped by around 3.7 percent, and the firm is forecasting five percent topline growth this year.

Key i&e clients include Beiersdorf, Microsoft, EDF, Mars, PWC and UPS.

"Both companies have an outstanding reputation in the French market and rank among the most innovative agencies. Our combined talents and areas of expertise, as well as Burson-Marsteller’s international network, will provide the best PR offering in the French market,” said Tristan Follin and Jean-Pierre Beaudoin, the co- chairmen of i&e, both of whom will remain within the company as corporate officers.