Edelman jumps into Indian market with joint venture

MUMBAI, INDIA: Edelman has made a strong move into the promising Indian market by forming a 50/50 joint partnership with Mumbai-based PR agency R&P Management Consultants.

MUMBAI, INDIA: Edelman has made a strong move into the promising Indian market by forming a 50/50 joint partnership with Mumbai-based PR agency R&P Management Consultants.

The Indian firm, whose clients include Citigroup, GE, and Johnson & Johnson, has been an Edelman affiliate since 2002. Its revenues last year were about $1 million, said founder and CEO Roger Pereira. The firm will be renamed R&PMC: Edelman.

In an interview from Mumbai with PRWeek, Pereira, Edelman Asia-Pacific president Alan VanderMolen, and CEO Richard Edelman characterized the partnership as the first concrete acquisition ever by a multinational American PR firm in India. They added that the partnership will benefit and expand both Indian and international client bases for both agencies.

"This is another affirmation of our goal of being a global power in PR," Edelman said. "We've continued to make acquisitions where others - our competitors - haven't."

Edelman named intellectual property, HIV/AIDS, and outsourcing as major issues facing corporations that deal with India. A recent global media audit by the agency found that India is overshadowed by China and often linked to outsourcing in US media stories. In fact, the audit found that 25% of all US news coverage of India relates to outsourcing.

"The good news - it's good for foreign investment," said VanderMolen of the perception. "The bad news is that India ... is seen one-dimensionally."

Still, Edelman said he feels that the "Wal-Martization" of business will ultimately benefit India.

"Business is going to have to look at a global labor pool, not a local labor pool," he said.

Sixty percent of the multimarket pitches that the firm has received in the Asian region in the past two years have had an Indian component, noted VanderMolen.

Edelman added that other US firms will likely move into the Indian market, as well. "As India becomes more important in the global economy, yes, that's an obvious next step," he said. "But we hope that they wait a nice long time."

The venture is not expected to result in any personnel changes for either firm. VanderMolen stressed "continuity of leadership" in R&PMC as a factor important to its future success.

Both firms are counting on India's increasing liberalization to bind it even more closely with the fortunes of America. "After 9/11, we all had a setback," Pereira said. "But in the last four months, we've seen growth like in the good old days."

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