WPP today announced investments in its business in India, including a breakthrough in the contentious JV with Indian partner Rediffusion. Arun Nanda and Ajit Balakrishan have bought back the 40 per cent shares held in their company by Y&R and Dentsu.
According to the announcement, WPP companies Sudler, Wunderman and Y&R, which now operate as joint venture agencies with Rediffusion, will be developed as wholly-owned agencies, with WPP selling its stakes in the current Rediffusion joint ventures. "There will be no change to
Wunderman's existing India businesses," the statement added.
In a joint statement, Nanda and Balakrishnan said, “45 years back, we started Rediffusion with the vision of creating a passionate and bold agency that would take ownership of its clients and their work; with the promise of creating dynamic, fearless and category-busting work. As communication is undergoing a revolution in this hyper-connected and technology-oriented world, it’s time Rediffusion rode this new wave with a new freedom, zeal and passion. We believe we will be able to deploy a variety of digital tools and creative styles more swiftly, if Rediffusion is on its own.“
In May this year, WPP had consolidated its ownership of these companies in Asia-Pacific and assumed complete control over its existing JVs in certain key markets. At that point of time, it had left the options for the Indian market open.
When Martin Sorrell quit as WPP's head in April this year, this was one of the first things that industry watchers had predicted. Campaign India's blog by Sandeep Goyal had this to say. "With the exit of Sir Martin, one thorny issue that may resolve itself is the sale of Rediffusion. Diwan Arun Nanda, the owner of Rediffusion, was once a close friend of Sir Martin. Then, reportedly, they fell apart. And that spelt the doom of one of India’s most revered agencies. In typical Sorrell style, WPP tried to strong arm Nanda into submission but Sir Martin did not realise that Nanda (first batch gold medalist of IIM-A) was made of sterner stuff. Martin took away the Colgate Palmolive business from Rediffusion. Then Citibank. Then Airtel. Sorrell tried to kill Rediffusion. But as I said, Nanda was made of sterner stuff. Rediffusion has survived but is a pale shadow of its original self. The exit of Sorrell may take the personal animosity out of the Rediffusion sale to Young & Rubicam. Under new management, this could happen sooner rather than later."
The WPP statement added that in line with its long-term growth objectives in this important market, GroupM, the media investment group, will move to full ownership of the mobile marketing agency Madhouse, from its current 50 percent interest.
Madhouse has offices in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore.
CVL Srinivas, Country Manager for WPP in India, said, “India is a key growth region for us
and we have a well-defined road map and vision for what we would like to achieve here. WPP
is home to some of the best marketing talent in this country and our plan is to steer our
agencies to stay ahead of the curve – in terms of both market and client needs, by providing
the best-in-class offerings.”
WPP in India will continue to cater to the market’s growing demand for integrated and
innovative marketing solutions, through strengthening its presence in the areas of data,
technology, content and creativity, the statement added.
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