WPP, the advertising group that owns the Ogilvy & Mather and J Walter Thompson agencies, has entered into a strategic alliance with Asatsu, Japan's third-largest agency. WPP is paying pounds 208m for a 20 per cent stake in Asatsu, and the Japanese firm will take a 4 per cent stake in WPP.
The two companies said they would work together to provide global services to Japanese clients and take advantage of Japan's lucrative advertising market, where expenditure hit $41bn (pounds 25bn) last year.
Asatsu recorded profits of $36.5m last year on billings of $1.6bn. It announced plans last week to merge with Dai Ichi Kikaku, the seventh-ranked agency in Japan.