Ogilvy Acquisition Creates China PR Powerhouse
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Ogilvy Acquisition Creates China PR Powerhouse

Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, which has been aggressively expanding its Asia-Pacific operations over the past two years, has acquired H-Line Public Relations, one of China’s top domestic public relations firms.

Paul Holmes

BEIJING, June 11—Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, which has been aggressively expanding its Asia-Pacific operations over the past two years, has acquired H-Line Public Relations, one of China’s top domestic public relations firms. Ogilvy PR will hold a majority stake in a new venture called H-Line Ogilvy Communications, which will continue to operate separately. H-Line’s founders and key executives of the company hold a significant portion of the equity in the new venture.
 
Demand for public relations and public affairs services has grown rapidly in China, where Ogilvy PR has been among the fastest growing firms, tripling its fee income since 1997. Ogilvy PR will continue to operate as a separate network in China, and together, the two firms will have more than 130 employees working from six offices in three cities.
 
“Just as the Chinese economy has grown to be among the world’s biggest, the Chinese PR market is already one of the world’s most exciting and is well on its way to being among the largest,” said Matthew Anderson, president of Asia Pacific for Ogilvy PR.  “The key to success for any international network in Asia is the ability to attract locally-rooted, specialist talent. With H-Line Ogilvy, we now have unmatched scale, depth and relationships in China.”
 
Anderson says the acquisition “anticipates the next stage of the development of the China market and is putting in place resources to meet new demands. In the past 10 years, the market has been driven largely by foreign brands entering China. The next five to ten years will see a greater imperative to localize western brands as well as the emergence of Chinese companies as strong international competitors and an increase in specialization as the purely domestic PR market develops.” 
 
Both Chinese and Western companies will look increasingly for such higher-end services as internal communications, public affairs, corporate social responsibility, corporate identity and brand positioning, and capital raising, both inside and outside of China, Anderson says.
 
Ogilvy PR and H-Line Ogilvy already represent such leading western companies as Alfred Dunhill, British Airways, BMW, the Business Software Alliance, Cartier, IBM, Jones Day, Nokia, UPS and Warburg Pincus as well as such top Chinese businesses as AsiaInfo (the first Mainland company to list on Nasdaq), DVision, a local video conferencing company, the China Import and Export Credit Corporation and Intrinsic Technologies.
 
Henry Huang founded H-Line in 1994, after a career as a journalist at Science & Technology Daily. Says Huang, “We see great opportunities to help internationalize many of our local relationships in partnership with Ogilvy. Now, we can not only advise senior executives of Chinese clients here, but also help them achieve their objectives around the world.  As we carefully looked at how to take H-Line to the next level, we sought a partner with a strong network and demonstrable, long-term commitment to China.”
 
H-Line Ogilvy is the second major partnership formed by Ogilvy PR in Asia Pacific this year. In January, Ogilvy PR announced an equity stake in PRAP Japan, one of the largest international public relations firms in Japan. Eighteen months ago, it entered the Australian market, acquiring a stake in several local firms.
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