Publicis Technology hunts for Singapore buy

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LONDON -- Publicis Technology, the global virtual agency network on the Internet owned by The Publicis Group, is set to make an acquisition in Singapore. President-CEO Alex Letts will travel to Singapore in the next few weeks to talk face-to-face to the four agencies with whom he has been negotiating over the Internet.

Publicis Technology this week announced its purchase of two small San Francisco-based agencies, Hodskins Simone & Searls and DNA New Media.

A decision on "what we want to do with whom" in Singapore is expected to be made within six to seven weeks, Mr. Letts says.

Tokyo had been considered as a first Asian base, but ruled out because of the complexities involved. Publicis Group affiliate DIK will be used as the agency's link with that market instead. Hong Kong, another option, also looks too uncertain politically, according to Mr. Letts.

"Singapore has been a very strong economy for a very long time," he adds. "It has strong advertising and technology communities. The point is to have very good agency people there who can manage regional campaigns across cultures and languages and who are very hot in new technology."

The Asian economic crisis is not a deterrent: it provides an immediate opportunity for acquisition and is unlikely to last for more than a year, Mr. Letts predicts.

Publicis Technology was formed with the purchase in the fall of 1997 of the SMI Group, London, a specialist new technology agency that now forms the nucleus of the network.

Copyright January 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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