WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell recently doubled his 2011 acquisition budget to £400m and he’s been busy spending some of it recently, including today’s purchase by WPP agency JWT of A4A, a digital agency founded in 2003 and based in Beijing. The agency employs 80 people and clients include Audi, Lenovo, Mamibuy and Nokia.
A4A’s unaudited revenues for the year ended 31 December 2010 were approximately RMB 16.2m (£1.6m), with gross assets at the same date of about RMB 12.2million, so hardly big money or people (WPP employs about 20,000 people in China).
But WPP is the biggest of the Western marcoms companies in China and JWT appears to be performing particularly well there, winning the Cannes Press Grand Prix and the more recent Spikes advertiser of the year for client Samsonite.
WPP companies have recently bought Lanka Marketing Research Bureau in Sri Lanka and the Arcay PR firm in South Africa while its Wunderman direct marketing network has opened up in the Philippines. The company has also ‘rebranded’ its Bates 141 operation in the Far East, dropping the ‘141’ and coining a new slogan ‘changengage.’
It looks as though Sorrell, who is asking shareholders to increase his basic salary to £1.5m after a pay freeze in recent years, is trying hard not to scare investors by attempting yet another big deal. The last one, £1.1bn for researcher TNS in 2008, still has to pay its way.