Rediffusion boss Arun Nanda snubs WPP’s Sorrell with Edelman PR deal for Tata

Indian ad agency Rediffusion may trade under the full moniker of Rediffusion-Y&R and be 26.7 per cent owned by WPP (Dentsu has 13.3 per cent) but founder and boss Arun Nanda and WPP Sir Martin Sorrell most definitely do not get on.

WPP has been trying to increase its stake for years now and Nanda (pictured) has, in effect, told WPP to get lost. Relations worsened even more when WPP agencies JWT India and Bates 141 (now 141) pinched two of Refiffusion’s biggest accounts, Airtel and Colgate-Palmolive respectively.

Now Nanda has snubbed WPP again by electing to get into bed with independently-owned PR giant Edelman to handle the PR account for Tata Group, India’s biggest industrial conglomerate and the owner of Jaguar Land Rover. WPP owns a gaggle of PR companies including global giant Hill & Knowlton.

Rediffusion and Edelman are forming a joint venture, Rediffusion/Edelman, which will be housed in Edelman India. “Edelman met our requirements best and we’ve decided to go with them,” says Nanda.

India is one of WPP’s global priorities (it has about 11,000 employees) there as it, like rivals Omnicom, Interpublic and Publicis Groupe, targets its fast-growing economy and huge population.

But boss Sorrell’s attempt to consolidate Rediffusion into his expanding Indian empire have been continually rebuffed by Nanda and his partner Ajit Balakrishnan who, between them, own 60 per cent.“We remain a majority Indian-owned company and have no plans of selling a further stake,” says Nanda defiantly.

Will Sorrell do the sensible thing and cut his losses by selling out, possibly to Dentsu?

Doubt it somehow. This one has become personal.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.