ASIA LINK GIVES EDGE TO SMALLER SHOPS IN REGION

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NEW DELHI-To fight the increasing domination of multinational agencies in Asia, a shop based here is seeking to form a regional equity partnership that will stretch across south, east and southeast Asia.

The alliance, to be called Asia Link Corp., will give small- to medium-size Asian shops the means to bid for regional and even global accounts, said founder R.S. Ahluwalia, also managing director of ad agency Arms Communications.

By buying up local shops, multinationals-U.S. agencies in particular-are increasing their presence in Asia to protect key business as it spreads internationally, Mr. Ahluwalia said.

Asian agencies then have to put their own clients on the back burner to serve the customers of their new multinational partners.

He sees an opportunity for smaller agencies to court companies that may not have big budgets but do harbor aspirations to eventually expand regionally. "We won't go after the big accounts," he said. "We'll be a network of small agencies supporting ambitious small- to medium-size clients."

Eight agencies totaling $300 million in billings have so far committed to the network, and Mr. Ahluwalia is negotiating to bring in representative agencies from Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia and the Middle East. He is also seeking non-equity affiliations with U.S. and European agencies.

The agencies each paid a $1,200 administrative fee to get the alliance off the ground, and Mr. Ahluwalia estimates the maximum equity investment from each agency will be $5,000 when Asia Link incorporates, which he expects sometime after August.

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