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WPP Enters Trading Sector

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WPP Group today said it has entered the corporate trading sector by way of a new company called the Midas Exchange, a unit of its GroupM operation.

The holding company has hired Kathy Kladopoulos as president of the new shop. Kladopoulos is a veteran in the field who launched a similar offering for Aegis Group's Carat nine years ago and has run that operation ever since.

In addition to Carat, Midas will also compete against independent Active International, Omnicom's Icon and Interpublic Group's Orion Trading.

WPP said it was entering the space at the request of clients, many of which already employ outside corporate trading firms and want the option of using a WPP entity for such tasks.

Typically, such firms swap excess inventory or other under-performing assets for media-time credits.

Midas will also leverage the program-development clout of sister shop GroupM Entertainment to enable it to trade content. This represents a bid to receive top-tier media placements not always available through typical barter deals.

"We plan to work directly with WPP through GroupM Entertainment to produce and/or license TV programming to television networks in exchange for inventory access to be used by the Midas Exchange," Kladopoulos said. "This will provide much greater access to key inventory on the most desirable TV networks, which generally are less inclined to participate in corporate trade deals."

WPP said the new company would work for GroupM clients, but remain an autonomous operation, separate from that division's agencies and buying teams.