TNS buys stake in Bulgarian member of Gallup

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SOFIA -- Taylor Nelson Sofres plc has entered into a contract to acquire 34% of the issued share capital of British Balkan Social Surveys AD ("BBSS"), a leading market research agency in Bulgaria, and to acquire 100% of its sister company Index AD.

Founded in 1991, BBSS had a 1997 turnover in Bulgaria of around $580,000. The company, which is a member of the Gallup International Association, is strong in syndicated and continuous research and runs a National Retail Audit, a Household Purchase Consumer Panel, and a Daily Diary TV, Radio and Print Media Panel.

In addition, it conducts biweekly face-to-face and telephone omnibus studies as well as ad hoc market, consumer, corporate and brand image studies.

TNS has worked with BBSS in establishing its Consumer Panel in Bulgaria. It is also the largest shareholder in CSOP in Romania, where TNS and BBSS have been co-operating to develop a Consumer Panel and television audience measurement services.

Commenting on the investment, Tony Cowling, executive chairman of TNS, says: "We have been actively co-operating for several years with our colleagues, who are leaders in their countries, Bulgaria and Romania, to develop key market information services for the region. During that time, turnover and profit have both grown. Their local knowledge and contacts allied to TNS' expertise in consumer and media panel services will provide a quality combination for multinational clients entering these markets".

Kancho Stoychev, managing director of BBSS, adds: "TNS has made the right strategic choice by entering the new Balkan markets, that count over 50 million customers, through Bulgaria, a country which has emerged as an island of financial stability in the region."

In addition to being a co-owner of the BBSS agency, Mr. Stoychev has held majority stakes in the leading Sega ("Now") daily newspaper and weekly magazine. This year, Young & Rubicam bought a part of his advertising firm, Championite ("The Champions").

Copyright November 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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