Sorrell Salivates Over Oriental Opportunities

24 June 2004

Writing in WPP Group's latest annual report released earlier this week, chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell reveals his enthusiasm for further acquisitions in the People's Republic of China. Especially as that nation's economy is undergoing a temporary blip on its inexorably upward curving chart.

"In my view, China is so important in the context of what we are trying to do in Asia, that if there is any slump, we would use it as an opportunity to invest further," Sorrell says.

The ability to spot a profitable opportunity is arguably the greatest talent in any ceo's armoury -- and Sir Martin has it in spades. As he has demonstrated many times over since he quit as financial director to the Saatchi brothers and bought a moribund publicly owned company -- Wire & Plastic Products plc.

Sorrell's first major step on the road to running the globe's second largest advertising corporation was the purchase of Ogilvy & Mather. Which very appropriately this week bought Shanghai agency Fujian Effort, amid a Beijing-imposed credit squeeze designed to rein-in the nation's runaway economy.

WPP already commands around 15% of the Chinese ad and media-related market, with sixteen businesses ranging from advertising and PR to research. "In China, you have a government that is just totally committed to industrial expansion," Sorrell enthuses.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff