MHP targets finance and healthcare clients with third APAC office

MHP Communications has opened an office in Singapore to meet what it says is a growing client need in South East Asia.

The office will be led by Kelly Johnston (pictured) who joins MHP as general manager for Singapore.

After beginning her career as a journalist in her native New Zealand, Johnston moved into PR with Bell Pottinger in London. She has also worked for PPR in Sydney and most recently for BBS in Singapore, and in-house with Emirates Airline and Australasian firm Lion Beer, Spirits & Wine. 

Johnston will report to Emma Smith, who as chief executive of MHP Asia Pacific, also oversees the firm's offices in Hong Kong and Sydney, which have a total of 11 staff. Smith joined MHP in August 2013 when she sold her agency The Consultancy to MHP.

Smith, who has been based in Hong Kong for 25 years but also spends time in Singapore, told PRWeek that most multinational firms had their regional HQ in either Hong Kong or Singapore, although many firms and some existing clients had a substantial presence in both. She also said that the Singapore office would target new business in financial and healthcare PR in particular.

Alex Bigg, CEO of MHP Communications, which has 150 staff globally, said: "We’re excited to expand our global network to South East Asia. The deep strategic advisory experience of our Asia Pacific team, combined with the creative resources of the MHP and Engine networks, gives us a unique position in the market."

The firm has also sought expansion in Europe and the US. Last summer, MHP became the latest in a string of agencies to bolster its German operation, and it also signed a partnership agreement with New York agency Dukas Linden. It also has an office in Brussels.

Only one other agency owned by MHP parent firm Engine has a Singapore office - the data and intelligence firm ORC International - according to the Engine website. ORC and MHP are not sharing office space currently.

Earlier this month it was confirmed that Engine's private equity owner was considering selling the group.

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