WPP buys into Batey

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LONDON -- WPP has conditionally agreed to buy a stake in the holding company of Asian ad network Batey Ads, Singapore, in which Paris-based BDDP Worldwide has long held a 20% interest.

It's no secret that Chairman Ian Batey has been looking for a big investor for some time. But BDDP Europe President Rod Wright said November 20 that he had just heard of the WPP deal, adding: "We shall have to get clarification of how Ian sees our minority stake. He's sold to WPP without proper consultation." He said BDDP also needed to "clarify WPP's intentions." The Tag Heuer account held by BDDP and run by Batey in the region is currently up for review.

WPP is lined up to acquire 37% of Batey Holdings Pte Ltd, a company that owns 80% of the Batey Ads group, Singapore.

The deal also gives the London-based communications group the option to buy up to 51% of the holding company and 14.8% of the agency network in five years time. WPP will pay up to $50 million, dependent on the future performance of Batey. Gross income at Batey in 1996 was $31 million.

Scholz & Friends, the German agency owned by Bates Worldwide, also last June embarked on a strategic alliance with Batey, in which Batey adapts for the Asia- Pacific region ads for Scholz's client, Reemtsma.

Copyright November 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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