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Dentsu Aegis buys Lankan Grant Group, closure this week

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MUMBAI: Dentsu Aegis Network today announces that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Grant Group, the largest independent creative agency and the pioneer of advertising in Sri Lanka. The acquisition of the 59-year-old integrated agency is Dentsu Aegis Network’s first foray into the island nation and one of the largest agency groups to enter the market in nearly two decades.

The deal is expected to close this week.

Dentsu Aegis Network APAC CEO Nick Waters said, “With social and economic stability in the country, Sri Lanka is set to reap the peace dividend. Significant foreign investment is already flowing into the country, and with strong historical ties to Japan, there is a natural opportunity for Dentsu Aegis Network clients to grow. Grant represents a unique opportunity as a top quality advertising and communications group to get into a strong position in a fast-growing market.”

Established in 1958 by Deshabandu Reggie Candappa – fondly known as the godfather of advertising in Sri Lanka, the Grant Group was the country’s first-ever international advertising agency. Today, the Grant Group is an award winning agency with 150 people spread across seven entities under two main groups: Grant Advertising – which comprises Grant Advertising and Grant Media, and Grant Agencies which is made up of Response Marketing a second internationally-renowned creative agency, RN Media, a pioneering OOH agency, Grant Public Relations, a leader in reputation management, Juice Productions, content creation studios and Magnetic, a growing digital business.

Post-acquisition, Grant Advertising will be known as Dentsu Grant while Grant Media will join Dentsu Aegis’ global media network brand, Carat. Other global agency brands within the network will integrate with their strong local agency counterparts to grow the business further adding value to their clients and their staff.

Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia chairman and CEO Ashish Bhasin said, “The acquisition of Grant Group is a key step in the Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia strategy and will launch our business in a market with significant potential. Through the Grant Group, we have a unique opportunity to enter the market with a bang and will be amongst the largest integrated groups in the country.”

“Grant is a well-established family-owned business with solid heritage and legacy, and Neela is a highly recognized personality in the corporate sector for her deep insight in the marketing communications arena and also for her work across women’s empowerment, conservation and sustainability. The group’s long standing relationships with their key clients, some over 50 years, also show that they have successfully built an incredibly strong network and trust from the clients,” Ashish added.

The group represents a prestigious list of over 60 local and international clients including some of Sri Lanka’s largest advertisers Ceylon Biscuits, Sampath Bank, Dialog Axiata, Fonterra and Sri Lanka Tea Board. The Grant Group has received various accolades at local and global industry events, from Agency of the Year awards, to Response Marketing as the most effective independent agency for telecommunications globally at the Effie awards.

Steering the Sri Lankan leadership team is Neela Marikkar, Chairperson and Managing Director of the Dentsu Aegis Network Grant Group. She will report to Ashish Bhasin, Chairman and CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia.

Grant Group chairperson Neela Marikkar said: “Given our long heritage in this market continuously staying ahead of the game, Dentsu Aegis Network’s cultural fit and best-in-class operating model are the right facets of a multinational partner to take our group and most importantly our clients and staff into a very dynamic future. More importantly given the growth in the market and the push towards digital, we need a strongly aligned and committed multinational partner with digital at its heart as brands grapple with the challenges of a changing media landscape. We are very excited to be able to tap on the network’s resources and work with the 38,000 great people at Dentsu Aegis Network. We are beginning a new chapter in the wonderful story of the Grant Group.”

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