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JWT to expand Australasian
offering with Singleton share deal

LONDON - WPP Group has sold a 49% stake in J Walter Thompson Australia and New Zealand to the Australian media company, Singleton Group.

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Singleton will issue 16.2m shares, or 10.69% of its share capital, to WPP, conditional on receiving shareholder approval at an extraordinary general meeting on February 1 2002. At that meeting, Singleton will also propose that it change its name to SWT Communications Group.

Peter Schweitzer, president and CEO of J Walter Thompson Company, said the move would enable the company to "enhance the strength of our operations in Australasia while maintaining majority ownership".

The ad agency will now have access to Singleton's roster of PR, direct marketing and interactive agencies, he said.

In return, Singleton hopes to benefit with new client opportunities.

The Singleton Group already owns Singleton Ogilvy & Mather, formed when John Singleton Advertising merged with WPP-owned Ogilvy & Mather in 1998.

Russell Tate, Singleton Group chief executive officer, said: "This proposal does not involve the merging of JWT's advertising operations with any company. JWT and Singleton Ogilvy & Mather will continue to operate in Australia and New Zealand under separate management, and often as competitors."

John Singleton Advertising was founded by John Singleton, who has made his name as one of the Australian advertising industry's characters, working on ad campaigns for the Australian Labor Party and as a television presenter. He started his career in the mailroom of JWT when he was 17.

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