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IPG joins armies: Lodestar, Universal McCann merge in India, Shashi Sinha elected CEO of merged entity

12-July-2006
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IPG joins armies: Lodestar, Universal McCann merge in India, Shashi Sinha elected CEO of merged entity

Media conglomerate Interpublic Group of Companies (IPG) is taking some serious steps to fight the battle for share in the Media pie at the global level. The Group has brands like FCB, McCann Erickson and Lowe in its fold. Media specialists under the IPG umbrella include Universal McCann, Initiative Media and Lodestar in India. IPG has made various moves to draw on network strength in various markets on the media front, and in India, the move is seen in the form of the merger of two entities – Lodestar and Universal McCann. The merged entity would be called Lodestar Universal and will officially launch on August 3, 2006. Shashi Sinha, President, Lodestar Media, has been elected to head the entity as CEO.

For Sinha, this responsibility comes in addition to the chair he holds at the regional level for FCB. Explaining more on this merger, Sinha said, “This is a very significant step. The sheer scale of operations will go up with this move. I would say that we would be the number two player in the India market. The merger also would mean that we would be able to focus and invest more on our position of thought leadership and bringing value-added offerings – whether it is the Lab Centre, our Retail or Brand Experience unit.”

In terms of people power, the merger just might prove simpler than a few others recently seen, as Universal McCann really didn’t see a dedicated India head after Chintamani Rao exited the post. The agency has heads in the form of Srinivas Prabu, GM, Mumbai; Vaishali Verma, GM, Bangalore; and Anamika Mehta, GM, Delhi. Details on what kind of changes can be expected on these fronts will be finalised later this week.

Lodestar Universal will see a Management Board comprising Nandini Dias (VP, Lodestar), Arpita Menon (GM, Lodestar) and Anamika Mehta. This core team would be responsible for the business development of the new entity and other top managerial duties.

Industry sources peg Lodestar Universal’s billings in the vicinity of over Rs 1,000 crore, which is a significant portion of the Indian market. In addition to the heavyweight clients like Tata Group of Lodestar, Universal McCann also has names like Microsoft, Intel, and J&J, among others.

At present, there isn’t much clarity on the integration plans of the two entities, but an inkling of what can be expect is seen in Sinha’s statement that while Lodestar was strong in the Mumbai market, Universal McCann was strong in Delhi and Bangalore. “There are enough ways of co-existing,” he added.

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