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1985 - Martin Sorrell, finance director at Saatchi & Saatchi, privately invests in WPP, a British wire shopping-cart maker, for 50 pence a share.

1986 - Mr. Sorrell, the engineer behind Saatchi's legendary agency aquisition strategy, leaves to join WPP full time.

1986 - At WPP, Mr. Sorrell begins acquiring below-the-line advertising companies, turning WPP from a shopping-cart marketer into a marketing-services specialist.

1987 - WPP completes a hostile takeover of J. Walter Thompson Co. for $566 million.

1989 - WPP acquires Ogilvy & Mather for $864 million.

1992 - WPP forms CommonHealth, a worldwide health-care network.

1993 - WPP sells Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, for $14.6 million.

1997 - WPP forms Intuition Group, a spinoff of J. Walter Thompson USA, focusing on marketing to women.

1997 - WPP buys a minority stake in U.K. public relations group HHCL & Partners.

1997 - WPP opens its first MindShare unit, the merged J. Walter Thompson Co. and Ogilvy & Mather media operation, in Hong Kong.

1998 - WPP opens MindShare in the U.K.

2000 - WPP opens it first U.S. MindShare unit in New York.

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