Ipsos broadens global reach with Synovate acquisition
By Matthew Fulco (China Daily Shanghai Bureau)
Liu Lifeng, Chief Executive Officer of Ipsos in Asia Pacific [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
Ipsos's acquisition of the Synovate business unit of the Aegis Group has strengthened the French research firm's core capacities and widened its scope of coverage, said Liu Lifeng, chief executive officer of Ipsos in Asia Pacific.
Ipsos acquired Synovate for £525 million ($39.5 million) in October in a deal funded with cash, new debt financing and a rights offering to Ipsos shareholders. The merger formed the world's third-largest market research company, with 16,000 people in 84 countries.
Founded in Paris, France, in 1975 and publicly listed in 1999, Ipsos is the only independent research company run by research professionals. Ipsos specializes in the research of marketing and advertising strategies, media, public opinion and customer and employee loyalty.
It serves largely Fortune 500 firms in the automotive, IT and telecommunications, finance, consumer goods and healthcare sectors.
"We help clients achieve optimal results from their marketing campaigns," said Alick Zhou, chief executive officer of Ipsos in the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Meanwhile, the acquisition of Synovate has strengthened Ipsos's offerings across the board, expanding its client portfolio and team of research experts, Liu said.
With a larger team of research experts, Ipsos can deliver a richer suite of research tools and products, he added.
The acquisition has proven quite successful from the client side, according to Ipsos's research.
Alick Zhou, Chief Executive Officer of Ipsos in the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
Looking ahead, China, already one of Ipsos's most important markets, will occupy an ever-larger position in the research firm's business. Ipsos is the fastest-growing and largest research firm in China, having expanded its operations from 120 full-time employees in 2003 to 1,700 people today. Revenue from Ipsos's China business increased to nearly 1 billion yuan ($158 million) last year.
Localization of Ipsos's China operations has been crucial to the firm's success in the world's second-largest economy. Throughout Ipsos's history in China, local Chinese research professionals have managed the company.
"Chinese people know the market and how to motivate our staff," Zhou said.
At the same time, Chinese firms are increasingly seeking Ipsos's services.
"Five years ago, 90 percent of our China business came from foreign companies, but today our portfolio is comprised of almost 30 percent Chinese clients," Liu said. "I expect in the future our portfolio will be evenly divided between foreign and Chinese clients."
Given the concerted national effort to boost China's overseas investment, Chinese firms have an increasing ability to conduct business at a global level, he explained.
"It is typical now for Chinese clients to conduct global studies," he said. "We have had clients for whom we conducted research in all 84 countries where we have operations."
Compared to many other companies from emerging markets, Chinese firms have a greater ambition for global leadership, Liu explained.
"Chinese firms are eager to learn from the world's top companies, because they aim to be global champions themselves one day," he said.