After nearly 15 months of negotiations, Earle Palmer Brown Associates Inc. said last week that it had purchased Vienna-based KSK Communications Ltd. for an undisclosed price.

Under the terms of the deal, KSK will retain its company name, management team, 37 employees and office in Northern Virginia. KSK will operate as a subsidiary of Earle Palmer Brown and become a member of EPB Partners, a $750 million network of ad agencies. Earle Palmer Brown, with headquarters in New York, has a significant presence at its Bethesda office.

"It just made sense to us to go with a larger company that would be able to offer services to our customers that we haven't been able to," said Karen S. Kennedy, president and founder of KSK. Kennedy will become a partner of Earle Palmer Brown after signing a three-year contract. "And we're proud to be a part of Earle Palmer Brown's highly respected organization and partner network."

Kennedy, 56, said the acquisition by Earle Palmer Brown allowed her to have an "exit strategy" when she is ready to retire.

"This is a great way for me not to have to sell at the last minute, whenever I decide to get out," she said, adding that the company has not experienced any financial difficulties and did not have to be sold.

KSK, which posted $23 million in gross revenue in 1997, the last year for which figures were available, was founded in 1983 as a full-service agency that provides marketing, advertising and public relations to a variety of clients. Some of its larger clients include Lucent Technologies Inc. and Zebra Technologies Corp.

Mike Carberry, a partner with Earle Palmer Brown and the general manager of its Washington office, said the company is excited about the purchase of KSK.

"KSK is going to be a tremendous addition because of its high-technology advertising expertise," he said.

Earle Palmer Brown is one of the nation's largest privately held marketing communications firms, with 600 employees. Founded in 1952, the agency provides advertising, public relations, direct marketing, sales promotion and Web site design to clients that include BP Amoco, Coca-Cola, DuPont, IBM and Holiday Inn.