Sir Martin Sorrell's public image is carefully crafted to reflect sagacity and caution - a businessman who always looks to all points of the compass before he leaps.

So when the canny knight talks up a company, a technology - or even a nation - Sorrell watchers conclude either WPP Group has invested in it … or is about to do so. As is the case with the globe's third largest economy and most populous nation, the Peoples Republic of China.

Speaking last weekend to London newspaper The Times, Sorrell predicted: "China will be the second-largest [world advertising] market by 2008." Currently, the fast-awakening giant lies sixth behind the US, Japan, Britain, Germany and France.

He capped his prognostication with news that WPP Group will shortly announce "not big but strategically important acquisitions", both in China (where WPP agencies already hold a 15% market share) and in another emerging giant, India.

Data sourced from The Times Online (UK); People's Daily Online; additional content by WARC staff