The big break from the line. The Russian advertising agency IMS Group spooked speculators London

Just over a year ago, International Marketing and Sales Group (IMSG) surprised the market extremely successful IPO on the London Stock Exchange. Marvel really was something. None of the Russian advertising agency has not carried out until IMSG IPO. Nobody expected that the pioneer, but still so successful, the player will be out not too developed in the Russian segment of the below-the-line (BTL).
In the US, for example, accounting for 60% of BTL advertising expenditure in Europe - about half of us - only the fifth part. However, the founder and main shareholder IMSG Greg Thain was able to attract investors, promising rapid growth of the company. Last fall gullible investors was fit to tear his hair. IMSG issued a profit forecast for 2006. Everything was nowhere near as good as it seemed before the IPO. The company's shares fell three times. All this is temporary, sure Thain. "I soon 53, I had already seen crises. Today, the paper grows, fall tomorrow. If every day to follow the course, it will end a heart attack, "- he says. According to Thane, IMSG should cost much more than it is now. If the law allows, it certainly will trade its shares on the Russian market. The passion for change

Thain has lived in Russia for 14 years. He likes these parts full of surprises life. He never sought stability. Irishman with two passports, Irish and British, he studied law at the University of Middlesex, but do not finish my studies. Published financial newspapers and magazines - and threw. Then he created a research company International Communication & Data Plc. But in 39 years, I decided to start a new life: sold the company and went to see the world. India, Singapore, China, Australia ... Russia seemed the most interesting. To feel great, I wanted to try everything once. By the mid-1990s Thein opened several businesses in various fields: medical insurance, printing, market research, monitoring of advertising, organization of exhibitions. And BTL-Agency Direct Marketing Company (DMC), later renamed the IMSG. All this left its own $ 500,000, about the same number have managed to take a few British friends.

Natural selection is quickly made his case - a couple of years, Thane there are only two companies: BTL-agency and research firm Russian Market Research Company (RMRC), famous for its unusual classification of Russian buyers. In one of the reports devoted to the study of consumer behavior, RMRC divided them into the following groups: "manhettentsy", "lost generation", "depressive buyers potato", "vozdelyvateli potato", "white-collar", "the young Russian," "sedentary farmers "and" ukrashateli their homes. " Funny paper repeatedly cited the media that contributed to the rising popularity of healthy RMRC.

BTL-agency was registered in Ireland, but it works only in Russia. Things were going well: in the early 1990s, foreign companies come to our market, we were drawn to the agency with the owner expat. "Then the customer first and foremost want to deal with someone who can be trusted," - says Thain. The client was a major. The first was not just anybody, and Hewlett-Packard. Then came the British American Tobacco, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Mars and many others.

However, the benefits of foreign residence permit DMC is not limited. "Russian Irishman" immediately decided to work according to international standards - to publish high-quality reporting, competently carry customers, paying attention to any detail. Thane personally supervised the execution of orders - for example, flew to Sochi to ensure that the yacht is hired by his manager for the winner of the lottery Kent, really such a luxury as promised.

In 1997, the two companies total revenue reached $ 10 million. Their combined offices, where a total of about 300 employees working at work in 22 cities of the CIS. During a crisis, knowing that the two companies still do not save, Thain decided to sell RMRC with all the staff. The buyer was the GFK, one of the largest research companies in the world. Under the deal, Thain year and a half remained managing director of the combined structure of the "GfK-Rus».

A passion for unusual research at Thane has not passed and after the sale RMRC. His BTL-agency still surprises the market with alternative review of the Russian economy, based on the data of the players in the consumer sector. A report issued last spring report says, for example, that Russia's GDP is underestimated by at least a quarter of the population and the costs of consumption exceeds the official figure of 1, 5 times. According to Rosstat, in 2005 Russian citizens spent on the purchase and maintenance of vehicles of $ 16 billion. IMSG only the cost of the purchase is estimated at $ 21 billion plus $ 10 billion for repairs and maintenance.

The second birth

After the crisis, Thain had to build their BTL-agency, consider, again - of the previous 22 offices remained only six. But restoring all the same as the Irish did not want to. Before the crisis, his agency was ready to fulfill almost any customer requests, even going beyond BTL. Now it's time more specialization, but a wider coverage area. It was then that DMC was renamed IMSG.

In 2000, the company has once again become profitable. By 2005, the IMSG had 12 offices in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. In 2003-2005. EBITDA and turnover IMSG doubled every year. The agency grew after clients: Kazakhstan office, for example, was originally open only under the "Beeline» - IMSG provided support rebranding operator in Russia and Kazakhstan. Now merchandisers IMSG see to it that in the mobile phone stores and vending machines, accepting payments, dominated logo "Beeline". "We IMSG the largest geographical coverage, - says head of sales department of" Beeline "Alexander Lashkov. - It is convenient for us, it is not necessary to conclude the contract in every region. " The budget of "Beeline" on merchandising in Russia from 2004 to 2006 grew by 30%.

IMSG was a real factory BTL, says the president of the Russian Association of Marketing Services (RAMS) Sergei Moiseyev. - Small agencies like to offer interesting ideas and IMSG not only comes up with, but also embodies the creativity in life. And in huge volumes «.

In 2004 IMSG restructured. It has been allocated four divisions: ITM (engaged in merchandising and sales support to producers Sector FMCG), IMS Marketing (conducting lotteries, organizing "hot line" and other communication with consumers), IMS Financial (specializes in the marketing of financial services - like American Express and Bank "Russian Standard") and IMS Retail (display of goods and promotions for retailers). In total, they employ 850 people - more than the Russian BTL-market no one else. In addition, the company regularly hires a whole army of third party merchandisers, promoters, telephone operators and other labor - sometimes up to 10 000 people.

In late 2005, Thain decided it was time for expansion in Asia and Eastern Europe. "If you want to make big money, you yourself must be large," - he says. But where to get the money to buy foreign assets? Friends, co-investors of the first companies Thane vowed not to deal with Russia. Banks are advertising business while little interest. "We have had talks with the bankers. They were very short talks "- grins Thain. Remained Exchange.


IMSG whole business was concentrated in Russia, but the law does not allow the registration of the company with a foreign place on Russian territory its securities. And it is unlikely the company could count on great success here. "Working here, investors are not yet ready to invest in marketing agencies, this business seems they are not very transparent," - says the analyst of "Aton" Tatiana Kapustina.

It was decided to be placed on the AIM - the special of the London Stock Exchange for smaller companies. During the road show Thain told investors that Europe's largest shopping mall - is situated near Moscow "Mega". "7 million customers per month!" - He exclaimed.

Investors swallowed. They liked and demonstrated in the recent past, the rapid growth of the agency, and the nationality of its owner, and he outlined the prospects. In December 2005, for 26, 4% stake IMSG could fetch $ 26, 3 million. In April 2006, held the second, more successful placement: 11, 5% of the shares Thain received $ 15, 1 million. At the peak of capitalization IMSG was $ 150 million - one-third higher than the price of the initial offering. The annual turnover of the agency at the time was estimated at $ 44 million.

It was a resounding success. "In the future, a very important point is that, whether the management of the company will be able to implement our plans. It is not just the opening of new structures, but also the level of their financial performance "- warns analyst" Brokercreditservice "Tatiana Bobrovskaya. But no one listened to the skeptics. Thain has started the planned expansion. In early 2006, IMSG bought just four companies: the Russian research firm IMCA, Hungarian HPS Marketing, RPM Radar Turkish and Indian Candid Marketing. A little later - a small British company Cubiculum Limited with an annual turnover of € 488 000. In the last Thain put € 3 to 4 million, and is very proud of her. The former owners Cubiculum - Belgian INSEAD Professor Marcel Corstjens and his wife Judith - developed and sold a training game Storewars computer program for managers of marketing and sales. Excellent opportunity for cross-marketing, decided Thane: Cubiculum have offices in 40 countries, its programs of study multinational companies. IMSG will distribute the program and at the same time promote their services. I'm happy to stay and Corstjens: "I felt that my" baby "will be in good hands».

However, to enter the markets of other countries was not so easy. BTL segments in the markets of interest to Thane, are poorly developed. In India, he revised 35 agencies before finding something worthwhile. The largest of the purchased companies - Turkish RPM Radar with an annual turnover of $ 25 million (70% of its shares IMSG paid $ 13, 9 million) - not even involved in BTL, as was the usual media agency. Nothing more appropriate in Turkey was not. But among the clients RPM including the Toyota and Nivea, and Thain has launched six months on its basis the company BTL-RPM Integre. Already in 2006, Turkey has provided IMSG about 26% of revenue. "Now we are working in three of the five largest European cities - Moscow, St. Petersburg and Istanbul" - happy Thain.

Local force majeure

In fact, what happened next, Thain himself partly to blame. In 2006 in Russia there were two unpleasant for BTL-market events: the authorities have launched a system of accounting for sales of alcohol EGAIS and limited advertising time on TV.

Due to the advertising restrictions the manufacturers of vodka and wine are used more than any other BTL, they are more willing to spend on promotions in stores. On a bottle of inexpensive table wine for 150 rubles. merchandising agency can earn up to 20 rubles.

"Alcoholics" in 2006 had to provide 7-8% of turnover IMS Group. Employees involved in laying out the goods on the shelves, in the spring began to notice that the work is not enough. The real problems began in September, when customers began to collapse merchandising program. "It was pure force majeure, - says Vyacheslav Meshkov, head of the non-network retail division ITM. - The Company began amicably terminate the contract. " The effects of alcohol crisis are still being felt: waiting until the situation stabilizes, customers postpone the signing of contracts for 2007

Unpleasant surprise for Thane turned and behavior of large advertisers, who, after raising prices on TV advertising budgets are concentrated just on TV. "This is a phenomenon! - He exclaims. - The global trend - the decline in the share ATL to BTL ». Apparently, the price of TV advertising with us is still too low, so advertisers have moved to other areas, says Thain.

Yet on the whole segment BTL can not be said that it is very hard hit: the growth in the past year amounted to 22% instead of the expected 27-30%. "It's too bad, BTL-market reached $ 1 65 billion" - says Moses of FRAME.

IMSG would be easier to survive the crisis in the market, if not overly generous promises Thane London investors. On the eve of IPO, he said that revenues in 2006 will increase to $ 126 million and net earnings of $ 7 million. In August IMSG had to disappoint investors: the figures will grow to only $ 100 million and $ 4, 75 million. It is a good idea - but obeschali- something more. "If the predictions regarding the IMS Group's own growth has not been as aggressive, the market would have reacted calmly to the local events", - said an analyst at London-based brokerage company Conaccord Alan Howard. And frightened investors began to dump shares. A few months later the shares were cheaper? 1.

Word and Deed

"We think the market reaction was too tight - said Thain. - Still, pound for our action - it is very small. " IMSG has arranged a series of meetings with investors. The decrease in revenue is only a temporary phenomenon, caused by changes in the Russian legislation, inspired them Thain, and everything is going according to plan. Saved him, however, is not beautiful words: in December 2006, when IMSG due to the vagaries of the market was worth only $ 70 million, Thain announced early repurchase of its securities. Top management of the company has spent $ 1, 5 million for the purchase of 2, 5% of the capital - and the shares went up. Last month the price is growing steadily and has already crossed? 1, 5.

And Thane new projects. The failure only strengthened the Englishman in the intention to create an international holding company, which will diversify the risks of individual countries. In 2007, it expects revenue to reach $ 140 million and income of $ 8 million. It is those companies that have, and in fact intends to continue to Thane buy foreign assets. At the same time, he said, negotiations and purchase one of the largest Russian BTL-agencies - hold 3, 5% of the market IMSG uninteresting. But what about the money? About $ 10 million was left of the first placement. In addition, says Thain, will now be able to take and banks.

Thain also hopes that soon will be able to trade their shares on the Russian market. Before the New Year, the State Duma adopted in the third reading of the law, an issuing Russian depository receipts. This will allow foreign issuers to place their shares on the Russian market, as well as now, Russian companies traded on international exchanges of ADR and its GDR. Then no crisis IMSG are not afraid, I'm sure Thain: "If we were quoted here, investors have reacted calmly to the negative news. After all, here everybody understands that this is a short time ».

Olga Promptov.



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