In a significant development, the UK-based market research outfit Taylor Nelson Sofres has entered into an agreement with The Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc (Interpublic) to acquire its MR arm NFO WorldGroup. The acquisition is set to be complete by July 2003. For the record, the Interpublic Group had purchased NFO in April 2000.
One of the strategic benefits of the this merger for TNS, besides bringing into the group the range and diversity of NFO's activities, is the addition of the US access panels and the strengthening of its Internet data collection capabilities. TNS does not currently own a US access panel. In 2002, revenues from clients using NFO's US access panel represented approximately 50 per cent of its North American turnover.
While the integration process will begin in no time, one wonders what will happen to the brand name TNS Mode in India? Or for that matter to MR agency NFO MBL which has established itself as a force to reckon with over the last two/three years.
One thing is for certain. As sources close to the development put it, "If one were to look at the spirit of the acquisition, the existence of one, single, unified entity is the only possible outcome. That TNS will remain as a brand is a certainty. What is not known is whether NFO will be retained as a TNS sub-brand or it will be merged into the new entity. All these things will be clear over a period of time."
On a worldwide basis management structures to implement the integration of NFO into TNS will be established for each region. As immediate priorities, the directors of each TNS unit will work with the NFO management to concentrate on integrating activities in the North America and Asia Pacific regions.
Talking about the effect of this development in India, Debi Basu, managing director, TNS Mode, says, "The combined manpower resources, expertise and client experience will make it the best in the research industry, not only in India, but in the Asia Pacific region. Both companies now provide back office support to international companies, which we were not able to earlier."
As the two agencies get ready to tackle the new reality, the key issue that remains unanswered is, what will be the brand name of the new entity. While that may not be an immediate concern for the two agencies in India, it is possibly the one single factor that will determine the real identity of the merged entity. © 2003 agencyfaqs!