WPP to close Burma office by end of year

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The Independent Online

Advertising giant WPP yesterday decided to pull out of Burma, two days after it was put on a "dirty list" of companies that support the country's military dictatorship.

Sir Martin Sorrell's group will close its office in Myanmar by the end of the year.

It acquired Bates Myanmar, the Burmese office of the Bates advertising network, when it took over Cordiant Communications this year.

WPP has not had interests in Burma in the past, but was named this week for its newly acquired links by the Burma Campaign UK. It said it was reviewing its Burmese office and yesterday confirmed its decision to pull out.

British American Tobacco, one of WPP's clients, is also under pressure to end its involvement in the country after the Government, which is against any UK company investing or operating in Burma, asked it to withdraw.

"WPP have done the right thing and deserve credit," John Jackson, director of the Burma Campaign UK said. "They have moved quickly to extricate themselves from Burma. BAT should learn from their example. It also acquired a subsidiary in Burma through a takeover, but it decided to stay."

Intrepid Travel, an Australian travel company with offices in the UK, yesterday said it was suspending trips to Burma after recently deciding to return to the region.

Carnival, a travel company that operates cruises to Burma, and the international auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, have said this week they are reviewing their interests in the country.

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