Mumbrella Asia: WE expands Asia presence



By Eleanor Dickinson

International public relations firm WE Communications has increased its presence in Asia with two regional acquisitions.

The Seattle-headquartered agency has acquired Red Bridge Communications in Shanghai and Singapore-based corporate affairs consultancy WATATAWA. The total acquisition cost for both was not disclosed. Staff and clients from both agencies were informed of the deals today.

Founded in 2009 by managing partner Penny Burgess, the independent agency Red Bridge will be rebranded to WE Red Bridge. The majority of WE’s clients in China are in the technology and health sector, but the acquisition of Red Bridge will give the agency a greater foothold in the consumer market, Burgess said.

WE has two offices in China – one in Shanghai and one in Beijing. Both will be overseen by Burgess in her new role as head of China for WE Red Bridge. She will report to executive vice president for Asia-Pacific Matthew Lackie, who is based in Singapore. The new combined agency will have more than 110 employees.

Meanwhile, WATATAWA will become a subsidiary of WE but will continue to operate under its own brand and leadership. Founded in 2010, the agency specialises in communications and crisis management. WATATAWA managing partner Simon Pangrazio will continue to lead the business regionally alongside agency chairman Bill Rylance, who is based in London.

Speaking to Mumbrella Asia, WE president and chief executive officer Melissa Waggener Zorkin called the acquisitions a “a powerful” moment for the agency. Asked whether WE Communications had further expansion plans in the region, she added: “We want to grow and we want to do it right.”

WE currently has nine offices across Asia-Pacific, including in India, China and Australia, plus a number of regional affiliates.