SEOUL: In a move which sees renewed confidence in the Asia-Pacific region, Burson-Marsteller has assumed full ownership of Korean partner Merit Communications.
SEOUL: In a move which sees renewed confidence in the Asia-Pacific
region, Burson-Marsteller has assumed full ownership of Korean partner
Since 1996, Burson has held a 25% stake in Merit, which was founded by
Burson alumni Bill Rylance and Bryan Matthews in 1989. The 34-strong
firm generated about dollars 3 million in revenue last year, and is
projected to grow between 10% and 12% this year. Merit will now operate
under the name Merit/Burson-Marsteller.
Rylance and Matthews, both British, earned their stripes in the region
by handling PR for the 1988 Seoul Olympics, and Merit recently
represented Korea in its successful bid to host the 2002 World Cup. The
firm handles work for the Korean government - including the Ministry of
Finance & Economy - as well as local clients and major multinationals
such as Coca-Cola, Dell and Qualcomm.
As part of the deal, Rylance will assume a new Hong Kong-based regional
role as MD, Asia-Pacific. Matthews will stay on as representative
director of Merit/B-M. Over the past six months, the firm appointed
Korean journalist Yong-suk Shin as chairman and Korean specialist Mike
Breen as managing director.
The move is the second major Asian investment by Burson’s parent company
Young & Rubicam in as many months. In August, Y&R increased its 50%
ownership in Tokyo-based Dentsu Young & Rubicam (DY&R) to a majority
position (PRWeek, August 9), effectively giving Y&R operational control
of all DY&R companies throughout Asia except those in Japan.
But Burson is not the only top firm to take a renewed interest in the
region lately. Just last week, GCI Group shifted one of its top UK
managers, Nicholas Walters, to Hong Kong to serve as chairman of GCI
Asia-Pacific, a new position (PRWeek, Sept. 20). And Ruder Finn recently
appointed veteran journalist Peter Witton to head its Hong Kong office
(PRWeek, August 2).