Sir Martin and Putin's Pal in Russian Joint Venture

09 August 2004

Is WPP Group chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell superstitious?

Until Friday, the globe's second largest marketing services holding company, had thirteen advertising, media and research operations on Russian soil.

Unlucky number? Sorrell is better known for good judgement than bad luck. But the question is no longer relevant: there is now a fourteenth member of Sir Martin's soviet stable, WPP Russia.

WPP Group has taken a 51% stake in a new joint venture with well-connected former local politico Mikhail Lesin, one-time minister for press and information and these days an adviser to president Vladimir Putin.

Lesin runs a company called Video International which belies its name by dealing in media buying and running a string of advertising agencies.

But could it be Lesin who is superstitious? His company has thirteen major shareholders, reportedly all well-connected Russian businessmen. WPP is now the fourteenth.

The WPP-Lesin joint venture is expected to earn annual revenues upward of $30 million (€24.45m; £16.25m).

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff