Dentsu, Asatsu form joint venture

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[Tokyo] Dentsu and domestic rival Asatsu-DK formed a joint venture called Drill to do Western-style creative and strategic communication planning for their clients in Japan. Starting in January, Dentsu will own 60% of Drill and Asatsu-DK, Japan's third largest agency, 40%. The deal is unusual because Dentsu and Asatsu-DK are longtime competitors in Japan. Their common rival, Japan's second-largest agency Hakuhodo, last year merged with Daiko Advertising and Yomiko Advertising under a joint holding company, Hakuhodo DY Holdings. Their goal is largely to compete better against Dentsu, although they operate as separate agencies. Drill's launch also signifies a new willingness by Dentsu to work with WPP Group. WPP's Young & Rubicam operates the DY&R network in Asia jointly with Dentsu, but WPP's acquisition of a 20% stake in Asatsu-DK five years ago helped discourage Dentsu from exploring a relationship with WPP. Dentsu sees Publicis Groupe, in which Dentsu has a 15% stake, as its main Western partner for international expansion.