Our Bureau

Mumbai, Sept. 8

THE WPP Group has announced that its operating company, Bates Asia, the Pan Asian advertising agency network, has agreed to acquire, subject to regulatory approvals, a majority stake in Enterprise Nexus Communications Pvt Ltd. The merged entity, to be named Bates Enterprise, will have some of the blue chip accounts in the country, including major Indian and multinational companies.

Bates Asia will hold a majority stake of 74 per cent in the new entity after buying out 40 per cent of the stake from Lowe and 34 per cent from Mr Mohammad Khan, who takes over as the Executive Chairman of Bates Enterprise.

The latest acquisition is in sync with WPP's strategy of developing its networks in fast growing markets and sectors. In India, the WPP Group includes leading advertising agencies such as JWT, O&M, Rediffusion DY&R and Grey Worldwide. The merged entity now becomes the fifth WPP agency network in the top 10 in India.

Under the agreement, Mr Mohammed Khan, founder of Enterprise Nexus, will assume the role of Executive Chairman while Mr Subhash Kamath will be the CEO of Bates Enterprise. Bates Enterprise combine will have offices in all the main metros of India and will offer a complete range of communications services. Apart from the main advertising business, the Bates India group will also include 141 Worldwide for through-the-line marketing services, as well as public relations and exhibitions.

Commenting on the merger Mr Ranjan Kapur, Non Executive Chairman, Bates Asia, said, `This is a perfect fit where there are no conflicts. I am very bullish on the future of Bates Enterprise, as it will now be called."

Mr Mohammed Khan, Chairman-Designate, Bates Enterprise, said: "The new combined agency will offer a powerful alternative to major advertisers. It's a very important development in what has been a very exciting career."

Agreeing, Mr Subhash Kamath, CEO, Bates Enterprise, said, "It's a great opportunity to create something really fantastic. It's an awesome team, terrific brands, and we're really looking forward to doing some pathbreaking work for our clients. We're all extremely charged up."

Bates Enterprise is expected to have a total strength of 300 employees with a combined billings turnover of nearly Rs 30 crore. "We will now end up having four offices in Mumbai, Delhi, Calcutta and Bangalore. In fact, in Delhi itself we intend becoming the third or fourth largest agency,'' said Mr Khan. Enterprise Nexus has big ticket accounts such as that of GM, Sony Electronics, Titan and ICICI Credit Cards. Bates India handles accounts of companies such as Nokia, Tata AIG, Dabur and Lever Ayush.

In the recent past, Bates Asia has unleashed a planning tool known as Change Point Planning to identify the changes sweeping across Asia. While the employees at Bates India have already undertaken training with this tool, it will now be the turn of Enterprise Nexus to get educated on the same, "The biggest challenge will the cultural integration of the two agencies and we are already working on a plan to facilitate this,'' said Mr Kamath.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 9, 2005)
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