Lowe takes a direct stake in ME

Lowe Worldwide has made its first direct investment into the Middle East after entering into a joint venture with Middle East Communication Networks.

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By  Tim Addington Published  January 21, 2006

Lowe Worldwide has made its first direct investment into the Middle East after entering into a joint venture with Middle East Communication Networks. As Campaign revealed last week, the troubled international agency has pulled the plug on its existing local affiliate, which will be forced to change its name and lose its globally aligned clients. The new Lowe agency will launch in April from new offices at Dubai Media City and will be independent from MCN’s Fortune Promoseven group, it claims. Lowe Worldwide’s Rupen Desai will relocate to Dubai from Beirut next month to head up the operation and other Lowe staff from across the region are also expected to make the move. Tony Wright, president and CEO for Lowe Worldwide, which has lost several big pieces of business in recent months, said: “As a worldwide network, we pay close attention to rapidly growing regions like the Middle East and North Africa. I believe that this new partnership will give us a platform to greater integration, creativity and innovation for our clients.” Lowe currently has a franchise agreement in place with another agency that manages an affiliate network on its behalf, but that agreement will end in April. Wright added: “Having a partnership that is built around an equity deal, shows our commitment to the region rather than an ‘at arms length’ franchise arrangement. This delivers more direct involvement in the creative product, enhanced local know-how and closer management of our international brands including Unilever and Johnson & Johnson. “Lowe Worldwide’s commitment to creative excellence across the network coupled with in-depth knowledge of the local consumer gives us the platform to deliver outstanding solutions for our clients.” The new strategy also allows equity participation for the affiliate network agencies, which will allow greater “integration and cohesion than experienced in the past”. Desai refused to disclose the level of investment Lowe Worldwide had made in the region, saying: “Everything will be equity based rather than franchise based. I am not at liberty to disclose the figures.” The 45-strong team currently working under the Lowe franchise have so far refused offers to move over to the new agency. Nirmal Diwadkar, chief operating officer for Lowe in the Middle East, said the team would set up its own agency, which will most likely be called Brand Com. He also said its remaining clients had expressed their support.

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