WPP buys again in China

BEIJING - WPP Group has bought its fifth Chinese agency in the last year as it acquires a majority stake in Chinese integrated marketing services company MeThinks for an undisclosed sum.

MeThinks, which is a Shanghai-based marketing company and was founded in 2000, has a range of global FMCG clients including Adidas, Coca-Cola, Duracell, Gillette and Johnson & Johnson. It will become part of WPP's below the line business Bates Asia.

WPP said acquiring a majority stake in the agency, which had gross assets of £2.4m in 2006, was part of its continuing investment strategy in areas with fast growing markets and sectors.

The group also invested in China Broadband Capital Partners, the venture capital outfit behind the impending launch of MySpace in China at the end of August.

In July, Bates Asia appointed John Lambie for its newly created regional integration director position, where he will be responsible for recruiting digital marketing experts for the agency and offering digital expertise to account teams.

The acquisition marks WPP's latest expansion into the Chinese marketing sector, having already secured a 51% stake in Guangzhou-based Dawson Integrated Marketing Communications for an undisclosed sum at the beginning of the month. Y&R will form a new joint venture with Dawson called Y&R Approach.

In August it invested in China Broadband Capital Partners, a Beijing-based investor in the technology and media sectors, which is leading the launch of MySpace in China.

Prior to that, WPP-owned Grey Group acquired a controlling stake in Star Echo, a marketing agency in China, and late last year WPP's Ogilvy & Mather bought a 49% stake in Beijing Raynet Advertising, an agency with clients such as China Netcom, Liaoning Mobile and Shanghai Xinjiegou.

Earlier this week, WPP acquired Canadian interactive agency Blast Radius. The agency also has offices in Amsterdam, New York, London, Toronto and San Francisco.

Blast Radius is to be aligned with WPP's Wunderman network and move marks a continuation of Wunderman's strategy to grow its digital operations.

Blast Radius clients include Nike, Whirlpool, Newell Rubbermaid, UnitedHealth Group and Starbucks.