Privately-held London ad shop Mustoe Merriman Levy has sold forty-nine per cent of itself to Japan’s second largest agency, Hakuhodo. The amount of cash changing hands is unstated.

The latter has been flexing its pectorals of late. Runner-up in the Japanese market to Dentsu, Hakuhodo nevertheless trails way behind the market leader, its billings last year (¥722.2billion) less than half Dentsu’s ¥1789.4bn.

But Hakuhodo recently announced plans to integrate its operations with those of rivals Daiko Advertising and Yomiko Advertising – respectively five and six in the nation's ad sector [WAMN: 04-Dec-02]. The combined trio will create the globe’s eighth largest agency network with billings of over ¥1000 billion ($8bn; €8bn; £5bn). Hakuhodo has also set up operations this year in China and India.

MML, rebranded as Mustoe, will move into Hakuhodo’s London office with staff and clientele intact. Its management retain a 51% holding [although doubtless the usual performance-linked options to cede control are in place].

Commenting on the deal MML chief executive Nick Mustoe says: “Our collaboration with Hakuhodo will offer us the opportunity of worldwide coverage something that is good for us and our clients. We will continue working with the same people and handle the same clients within the same culture.” Ah, so.

Data sourced from: and AdAge Global; additional content by WARC staff