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(June 5, 2001) SINGAPORE -- Grey Worldwide has closed an office in Singapore, with much of that business relocating a short distance to its Grey Southeast Asia operation headquartered out of Malaysia.

Quelling rumors its entire Singapore operations had closed down, Eric Rosenkranz, CEO of Grey Global Group Asia, said that the agency has always had a regional service center in Singapore and will continue to do so.

"Grey Singapore was perceived as a joint venture but it was not in the legal sense of the phrase," he explained. "Suffice to say the shares were owned by two parties, and Grey did not have a majority share."

Edwin Tan, a shareholder and managing director of Grey Singapore, is leaving the agency to pursue a career possibly in the marketing communications field, but he will not be setting up a new advertising agency, Mr. Rosenkranz said. Mr. Tan was not available for comment.

There is speculation that this was a convenient way for Grey to continue its Singapore operations while divesting itself of its local agency partner. Mr. Rosenkranz went only so far as to say that Grey is still very committed to the Singapore market.

The Grey Southeast Asia office in Singapore, currently reporting to Malaysia-based CEO John Burbage, will continue to service the regional business of its multinational clients.

Mr. Rosenkranz agreed that Grey Singapore had never fully recovered from the 1997 recession, but now that it has been assimilated into the Grey Southeast Asia operation, expansion might be on the horizon.

"Now is the time to take stock and decide growth plans for the future. Grey Global Group might be looking to acquire a local agency or appoint an MD," he said. -- Magz Osborne

Copyright June 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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