WPP Ups Asian Holdings, Buys Stake In Chinese Agency

WPP has gone on a holiday shopping spree acquiring or investing in six agencies and two technology firms in the last month. The latest buy: the purchase of a 49% stake in Chinese ad firm Nanjing Yindu, through WPP’s global agency network Ogilvy & Mather. 

Commenting on the investment, the holding company stated: “This move expands Ogilvy's reach into the important Yangtze River Delta, a crucial region that encompasses not only Jiangsu province, which has the second-highest GDP [gross domestic product] of all Chinese provinces, but also Anhui and Zhejiang provinces.” WPP added that the investment “underlines WPP's regional approach in China, not confined to the coastal region.”

The agency’s services include strategic planning, advertising, branding and corporate identity, print and media production and media buying. It employs 250 people and clients include Chinese brands such as Jiangsu Mobile, Heilan Home, Jiangsu Yanghe Brewery, Nanjing Iveco, MoonHare, Simcere, Longliqi and China Construction Bank.



In fact, most of the agencies acquired during the spree are based in Asia. (The exception was the previously reported Washington, D.C.-based Glover Park PR Group).  

WPP has identified the Asia-Pacific region as a key target of opportunity, and its businesses there currently generate revenues of more than $4 billion and employ approximately 42,000 people. 

Last week, through digital shop VML, WPP bought a majority stake in full-service digital-marketing agency Qais Consulting in Singapore. The shop will rebrand as VML Qais and operate as part of Y&R Asia. Qais, which also has a presence in Mumbai, India, has a client roster that includes Standard Chartered Bank, Sony Electronics, Sony Pictures, Hilton Hotels, Mahindra & Mahindra, ICICI Bank, Tata Motors and the Singapore Ministry of Defence. 

Also last week, WPP bought majority stakes in two Asian PR firms, one through Ogilvy PR and the other via Cohn & Wolfe. Ogilvy bought Hong Kong-based Mind Resource Healthcare Consulting, while Cohn Wolfe acquired digital and general interest PR firm XPR, based in Singapore. Two weeks earlier, Cohn Wolfe bought a majority interest in Impactasia, with offices throughout Greater China.

On the technology front, WPP’s 24/7 Real Media, in a bid to bolster its streaming capabilities, acquired the assets of Panache, the video advertising software and services company. The Panache assets will be incorporated into 24/7’s Open AdStream advertising management platform, WPP said.

The holding also took a minority stake in London-based mobile tech firm Lumi Technologies, which has a platform that creates real-time event apps for mobile devices. Clients include EMI, Endemol and Channel 4 in the UK, ABC in the U.S. and Mediaset and YLE in Europe.

Whether the buying spree was the result of coincidentally timed opportunities, a year-end using up of the M&A budget or some other reason was not clear. A holding company rep was not available for comment at press time.

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