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Dentsu acquires digital agency Webchutney from Network18

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MUMBAI: It‘s cashing out on its investment. Media conglomerate Network18 today announced that it was finally divesting its equity holding in digital marketing agency Webchutney to Japanese ad giant, Dentsu. The latter had been circling Webchutney, ogling it as an acquisition for nearly a year. Founded in 1999, Webchutney will reportedly be Dentsu‘s first local acquisition in the digital agency space.

Network18 had acquired a majority stake in Webchutney through its venture capital arm Capital18 in November 2007 and it says it has managed to get a 300 per cent return on its investment through the current transaction.

Webchutney, a leading interactive marketing and technology services agency, reported a net profit of Rs 6.35 crore in the financial year 2011-2012 on revenues of Rs 21.55 crore, according to media reports. It boasts a healthy clientele including Airtel, Microsoft, Unilever, Marico, Titan, MasterCard, Barclay‘s, Procter & Gamble among many others, and ranks among the top digital agencies in India.

Its full suite of digital offerings includes online advertising, web designing and development, search engine marketing and social media consulting. Its award winning teams are spread across Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore and consists of over 200 professionals.

Network18‘s 80 per cent Webchutney stake is bifurcated between Capital18 Mauritius which holds 49.42 per cent and Capital18 Fincap which has a 20.64 per cent.

Commenting on the transaction, Network18 MD Raghav Bahl says: "The divestiture of Webchutney, is a reflection of our commitment to profitably monetise our investment portfolio for the benefit of our shareholders and to also facilitate the growth of these businesses to the next level. We would like to convey our best wishes to the Webchutney team as they embark on the next phase of their journey."

Webchutney co-founder and CEO Sidharth Rao says: "I am personally grateful to Sarbvir Singh who has been my mentor for the past five years and his team at Capital18 for ensuring that we shared a wonderful journey together. In Dentsu and Rohit Ohri, we have found a partner who is willing to invest in and cultivate our passion to provide path breaking digital creative services to our clients."

Dentsu India group executive chairman Rohit Ohri along with Webchutney co-founders Sidharth Rao (L) and Sudesh Samaria (R)

Dentsu India group executive chairman Rohit Ohri opined that he is delighted to have India‘s No 1 digital agency as a part of the Dentsu India group. He explains: "We’re now going to be able to put world-class digital solutions in the centre of our offering to our clients."

Now that could be music to anyone‘s ears.

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