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(July 20, 2001) MOSCOW -- Russian agency Ark Thompson, which is partially owned by J. Walter Thompson Co., has parted with media specialist MindShare, citing as the main reason the sister company's "inability to handle business," said the ageny's managing director. Both agencies are part of WPP Group.

The move is a major blow for MindShare, which stands to lose major clients like Mazda, ICN, Rolex, Wilkinson Sword/Schick and the Bureau of Tourism of Singapore. Ark Thompson clients accounted for 60% of MindShare's $10 million in billings in Russia.

Ark Thompson will assume both media planning and buying for the clients and is hiring new employees for the businesses.

A letter from the agency reads: "Our initial agreement [with Vladimir Rass, director general of MindShare] were never fulfilled. We are unable to influence the service MindShare provides [although] certain problems exist."

A spokesman at MindShare admited that there were problems with Ark Thompson, claiming the creative agency's work methods were not "transparent."

The MindShare spokesman added, "We will continue to work with our existing partner Ogilvy-Propaganda. We will also strengthen cooperation with Young & Rubicam [which is also part of WPP]."

MindShare was launched in late 1999 by WPP partners Ark Thompson and Ogilvy-Propaganda. Non-Ark Thompson clients include Kodak, Bacardi-Martini, and local meat producer Talosto.

In spite of the rift, Ark Thompson does not dismiss any future cooperation with MindShare, particularly given that WPP plans to marry Young & Rubicam's The Media Edge with MindShare to form a company named The MindShare Media Edge, said Ark Thompson Managing Director Gabriel Fulopp. -- Sergey Rybak

Copyright July 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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