Ogilvy snaps up stake in HK shop

HONG KONG: Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide has bought a controlling stake in Hong Kong-based financial comms shop iPR Asia Holdings.

The WPP-owned agency would not reveal the value of its acquisition of iPR Asia, which handled 20 per cent of last year's listings on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Under the deal - which is structured as an earn-out arrangement, whose main beneficiary is iPR Asia cofounder Ellen Kong - the firm is being rebranded to iPR Ogilvy.

Ogilvy already has offices in Bangkok, Beijing, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh City, Seoul and Taipei, as well as Hong Kong. But Ogilvy Asia-Pacific and EAME chief executive Matthew Anderson said the deal would give the agency 'more depth across the whole region'.

Announcing the deal, WPP CEO Martin Sorrell said the acquisition was in line with the group's stated strategy of 'building our brand in Asia'.

Asia accounts for 17 per cent of WPP's global revenues, forecast at £5.4bn this year. Sales in China increased 22 per cent in the first half of 2005, Sorrell said.

Ogilvy Asia-Pacific president Christopher Graves said the company hoped to use the acquisition to take advantage of the £9.2bn worth of firms expected to list in Hong Kong this year.

Cross-border M&A activity in Asia is also back on the rise. Deals involving Chinese companies so far in 2005 have already amounted to £14.6bn, twice the value for the whole of 2004.

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