H-Line purchase gives Ogilvy top PR presence in China

NEW YORK: Ogilvy announced last week that it had become the first major agency to acquire a domestic PR shop on mainland China since the country was welcomed into the World Trade Organization.

NEW YORK: Ogilvy announced last week that it had become the first major agency to acquire a domestic PR shop on mainland China since the country was welcomed into the World Trade Organization.

The purchase of Beijing-based H-Line Public Relations will give Ogilvy six offices and 130 PR pros in China, creating the industry's largest presence in the world's most populous nation - what many experts say will be the globe's next economic superpower.

Ogilvy will own 60% of the new company, which will be called H-Line Ogilvy Communications.

Ogilvy hopes the acquisition will help it exploit two industry trends that it says now dominate PR efforts in China.

"We're seeing more Western clients looking to raise their profile in China, said Matthew Anderson, president of Ogilvy Asia Pacific. "At the same time, we're seeing Chinese firms looking to gain the interest of Western investors - even looking to list on Nasdaq, for instance."

Ogilvy hopes to leverage H-Line's network of contacts within China to help its clients build their brands on the mainland. In turn, Ogilvy expects to handle investor relations work for H-Line clients that are looking to tap Western investors.

H-Line's existing management will be given significant autonomy in running the unit, and have been given incentive to keep growing the business.

The firms worked closely together prior to the merger announcement, sharing clients such as British Airways, BMW, the Business Software Alliance, UPS, Warburg Pincus, and AsiaInfo (the first Mainland company to list on Nasdaq).

The purchase is the second major investment in Asia this year by Ogilvy.

In January, the agency purchased a 33% stake in Japanese PR firm PRAP.

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