WPP Group plc, buoyed by improved financial results, is stepping up its merger and acquisition activities.
The London-based owner of Ogilvy & Mather and J. Walter Thompson is currently working on several different deals, leading some observers to predict a stepped-up pace of acquisitions by WPP chief executive Martin Sorrell after a relatively quiet period during the past few years.
Late last week, WPP inked a letter of intent to acquire a minority interest in IGM SA, a holding company that owns the media research business of IBOPE Pesquisa de Midia Ltda. and IBOPE Latinoamericana S.A. The investment in IBOPE, the leading market research business in Latin America, "will further enhance the Group's information and consultancy capability [there]," said WPP.
The world's largest communications holding company is also in talks to acquire two London-based public relations firms: Dewe Rogerson Ltd. in London, an international public relations agency with offices in New York; and Buchanan Communications Ltd., which would complement WPP's Hill & Knowlton agency. WPP executives declined comment on the deals.
Industry experts said WPP's financial rebound has made it a looming presence once again in many M&A discussions. Sources predicted that WPP will pursue later this year one of the newly independent agencies created by the "demerger" of Cordiant.
"Martin has the resources again to play equally with Omnicom and IPG," said one source. "Now what he is really looking for is a third U.S. network."