Bates eyes investments across the Middle East

Bates PanGulf is looking to make a series of investments in creative agencies across the Middle East in order to bolster the group ahead of possible stock market floatation, Campaign can reveal.

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By  Tim Addington Published  February 26, 2006

Bates PanGulf is looking to make a series of investments in creative agencies across the Middle East in order to bolster the group ahead of possible stock market floatation, Campaign can reveal. The Dubai-based firm, which includes advertising, media planning and buying, PR and marketing divisions, is also on the lookout for a “high end” design agency to add to its portfolio of companies. Avi Bhojani, group CEO at the agency, said that Bates was “actively” looking at three investment opportunities in the UAE, and one each in Jeddah, Amman and Cairo. He said: “We have a healthy balance sheet, we are growing and are better organised. We are looking at acquisitions. “All of them are small to medium-sized investments and our strategy is to buy-in with significant equity to ensure product quality and core values compatibility, while ensuring that the business stays entrepreneurial. We think we can help deliver better shareholder value with our management style.” Bhojani did not go into detail on the size of any potential investment, but said: “An adequate stake to make sure you can help them, but not owning all their problems.” The agency boss also said that the company, together with help from the WPP network, wanted to create a global marketing communications company that would focus on developing markets in areas such as Asia, Russia and Latin America. The first region that it will concentrate its attention on is Africa. “We are actively looking at Sudan and Morocco,” he said. “Over the next three years we should have three offices in Africa. The pipedream is to create an emerging markets marcom group.” Talking about listing the Bates PanGulf group on the stock market, which would most likely be in Dubai, Bhojani said: “We are also looking at going public. We need to aggregate a more sizeable product first, but have been thinking about it for seven years. We need to diversify our revenue streams a little. It is certainly a direction we are actively exploring.” Bates celebrated its 25th birthday last week with a party at the Jumeirah Beach Residence Club in Dubai. More than 800 people attended the event, including WPP worldwide chief operating officer, Tro Piliguian. Abdulla Majed Al Ghurair, chairman of the Bates PanGulf group, said: “My father, the late Majed Ahmed Al Ghurair, wanted to set up a world-class advertising agency that would help build powerful local and regional brands and businesses. I am pleased to say that 25 years later, we are well on the road to realising his dream.”

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