Arun Sudhaman 30 Nov 2011 // 12:00AM GMT
HONG KONG--Cohn & Wolfe is to acquire Greater China independent PR firm ImpactAsia.
The move immediately triples the WPP agency's size in Asia, where it has previously maintained a small presence in China and Indonesia.
The merged agency, Cohn & Wolfe-impactasia, will have more than 80 professionals, adding ImpactAsia's specific strengths in travel & tourism, art & design and luxury goods. Cohn & Wolfe acquires a Hong Kong presence, and adds depth to its capabilities in mainland China.
“With 21 years of local and international experience, ImpactAsia is a key player in the China marketplace," Cohn & Wolfe global CEO Donna Imperato told the Holmes Report. "This acquisition will greatly enhance our offering in China, building on the significant growth Cohn & Wolfe has had in the region over the past several years.”
Leading the newly formed agency are Susan Field, who founded ImpactAsia in 1990, and Sarah Woodhouse. The duo, who are based in Hong Kong, retain their positions as CEO and group MD, respectively, reporting to Imperato.
The deal does not include ImpactAsia's operations in Singapore. Woodhouse told the Holmes Report that the firm's Singapore partners - Amy Wright and Kate O’Shea - had bought out the Hong Kong firm's stake in that business.
"This is an amicable decision based on the shareholders wanting to focus on the markets they are living and primarily operating in," said Woodhouse. "We will continue to work together on shared client work and both parties will continue to operate as affiliate partners where it makes sense to do so. They will be announcing their rebranding in due course."
Lydia Shen, currently managing director of Cohn & Wolfe China, and Fiona Ng, currently managing director of ImpactAsia, become managing directors of Cohn & Wolfe-impactasia, sharing responsibility for mainland China. The duo will report to Woodhouse.
“Our decision to team-up with Cohn & Wolfe is about giving us critical mass in China, adding services to our offering, broadening our global reach and giving our staff additional opportunity for growth," Woodhouse told the Holmes Report. "It is an outstanding fit for us both strategically and culturally.”
ImpactAsia's clients include Rolls Royce, Hotels.com, Guinness, Pernod Ricard, MGM Hospitality, Robert Half International, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and Sofitel Luxury Hotels.