WPP Eyes Chinese Expansion with PR Buy

11 June 2002

WPP Group is creating China’s largest public relations network with the acquisition by its Ogilvy PR subsidiary of Beijing Xian Consulting.

It is the first time a foreign firm has bought a Chinese PR company since the nation’s authorities altered regulations upon joining the World Trade Organisation.

WPP will hold 60% of a new entity entitled Beijing Xian Aomei Information Consulting, which will operate independently of Ogilvy. The value of the deal has not been disclosed, but is believed to involve several million US dollars.

Beijing Xian’s client list includes Dell, Intel, Microsoft and telecoms group China Unicom. According to chief executive Huang Yong (who will also oversee the firm after the move to WPP), the group has been in takeover talks with over twenty overseas PR groups in the last two years, plumping for Ogilvy because of its expertise abroad and extensive client portfolio.

China’s public relations industry is seen as having huge growth potential, given its relative infancy and the unparalleled size of the market.

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