Opinion: Leader - Draw a line under WPP market share

The competition authorities tend to go on market-share data when deciding if mergers are to be allowed. Tesco and Asda, for example, were not permitted to bid for Safeway, since this would have given them too strong a position in groceries.

There is nothing to suggest that WPP's position in the PR market is anything like as dominant. And yet eyebrows are certain to be raised by news that - following this week's sale of US ad agency Grey Global - GCI Group is to be kept within the Sir Martin Sorrell family.

This gives WPP three of the top ten UK PR firms, and eight of the top 30. Added to its roughly 20 per cent stake in Chime Communications, it gives the group an overwhelmingly strong position in the market. Most observers noted as long ago as the Young & Rubicam deal in 2001 (which added Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe to the WPP portfolio), that Sorrell now owns enough PR firms. So surely it is time to draw a line under the firm's expansion plans in the PR sector.

Grey's other major PR asset was, of course, APCO, the PA and strategic comms firm that has been in MBO talks for months. For the sake of certainty for the future, staff there will be hoping completion comes soon.

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