London-listed WPP in talks to acquire Russian digital agency Grape

Irish communications services provider WPP plc (LON:WPP) said today it had, through its Possible Worldwide operating network, entered into an agreement to purchase a majority stake in Russian digital marketing services agency Grape LLC.

WPP did not disclose the value of the deal. It is part of the group’s goal to develop its services in rapidly-growing and key markets and sectors, as well as to enhance its digital media capabilities, the stake buyer said.

Moscow-headquartered Grape was established by Andrey Vinograd and Boris Ryss in 2002 and is now led by chief executive officer Andrei Anischenko. The agency, with a staff of 124, concentrates on website and social media strategies. In 2011, it had consolidated unaudited revenues of nearly RUB425m (USD13.6m/EUR10.7m) and gross assets of almost RUB216m as at the year end.

WPP is a marketing communications services specialist with units operating in the advertising, media investment management, consumer insight, public relations and affairs, among other sectors.

The group has a total headcount of about 158,000, including around 1,900 employees in Russia and nearly 6,000 workers across the central and eastern European markets as a whole. Its total revenues amounted to USD16bn (EUR12.6bn) in 2011, including USD4.8bn in digital revenues. In Russia alone, the total figure surpassed USD200m last year.

The Irish group’s objective is to have its digital revenue account for 35-40% of its total amount in the next five years, it said.