By Arun Sudhaman
BEIJING: MSLGroup has confirmed the acquisition of Chinese independent Eastwei, after the deal was exclusively revealed by the Holmes Report yesterday.
The development marks the second Asian acquisition in recent months for MS&L Group, after buying Indian agency 20:20 Media.
The agency will be renamed Eastwei MSL and will operate as a separate firm to the network's existing China operation: MSL China.
Both MSL China and Eastwei MSL China will share a common network brand and become a part of a newly formed MSLGroup Greater China Management Board, which will lead overall business strategy.
Chaired by MSLGroup Asia president Glenn Osaki, who is based in Shanghai, the board will include Benjamin Tan from MSL China, Johan Björkstén and Pär Uhlin from Eastwei MSL China, and Venus Chan from MSL Hong Kong.
MSLGroup CEO Olivier Fleurot has made no secret of the agency’s desire to acquire in emerging markets, given the nature of the network’s current global coverage. MSLGroup was formed last year by combining Publicis Groupe agencies MS&L and Publicis Consultants, along with such brands as JKL, Capital MS&L and PublicisLive.
Eastwei was founded in 1994 in Beijing by three partners, including current majority owner and chairman Johan Björkstén, who bought out his former partners in 2003.
The firm is viewed as one of the leading independent PR agencies in China, with fee income of approximately $5 million and more than 120 staff members. Based in Beijing, Eastwei also has offices in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengu. Key clients include Reebok, P&G, Sony, Ikea and General Motors.
Last year, The Holmes Report named Eastwei its 2009 Greater China Consultancy of the Year.
MSL's combined Greater China presence will now number more than 225 staffers across seven offices in mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
It is understood that MSL Group has been seeking a China acquisition for some time, after previous talks with local independent D&S Consulting ultimately proved fruitless.