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Sam Balsara rubbishes Madison sale rumours

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Sam Balsara rubbishes Madison sale rumours

For various reasons, the year 2012 has been high on M&A (Mergers and Acquisitions) activities in the advertising world not only for digital agencies but also for creative independents, and as seen in the case of Dentsu and Aegis Media, even at a holding company level. India too has seen its share of M&A announcements in the year.

Amid these developments, on-and-off conversations have sprung up on whether Madison World, or Madison Media to be specific, would begin active dialogue with any holding company for a sale this year. After all, Madison is amongst the very rare breed of Indian-owned advertising companies that are outperforming competitors that come with global lineage and backing. While Madison World has various entities across communication verticals, Madison Media is the star offer of the company. According to industry reports, Madison Media cornered nearly 12 per cent market share of the business in 2011, making it an interesting option for international players who are looking to augment their market share in India.

Speculations on the subject surfaced earlier this week when industry grapevine suggested that Madison had appointed an M&A specialist, out of India, to lookout for potential buyers for the company. Some even said that Dentsu may be one of the frontrunners in the conversation, given Dentsu’s doggedness in acquiring companies that could help it strengthen its offer in markets beyond Japan.

Balsara however rubbished such rumours and commented to exchange4media, “I can say with all the emphasis at my command that we have not appointed any M&A consultant in India or in any part of the world to ‘sell’ Madison.”

He added, “Our position on the subject continues to be the same as it has been for the last decade and a half – that we are open to evaluating bringing in a joint venture partner provided what the partner brings in can strengthen or benefit Madison’s clients, employees and shareholders – in that order.” The thought process was seen when Madison joined hands with BMB to launch creative outfit BMB Madison in India.

In a manner of speaking, Madison aligns with WPP-owned GroupM at the moment given Balsara’s 51 per cent stake in GroupM agency MediaCom in India. The masterstroke not only gave Balsara presence in a third media agency brand (Madison Media, apart from the likes of Madison Media Infinity and Pinnacle also owns a second media agency brand in Platinum Media) but also ensured that both P&G and archrival Hindustan Unilever worked with GroupM agencies in India.

While Balsara’s comments would imply that nothing significant has changed for Madison in terms of a potential partnership with a global holding company, the right offer may just end up seeing Madison finally tie the knot with a worthy suitor.

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