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India’s strength as a provider of business services was underscored on Tuesday as Publicis revealed a deal to buy control of the country’s biggest marketing-services company.

Paris-based Publicis, the world’s fourth-biggest marketing-services group, said it was buying 60 per cent of Solutions Integrated Marketing Services of New Delhi for an undisclosed sum.

Solutions Integrated Marketing provides direct, digital, retail, promotional and event marketing services to clients including Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Cisco, Gillette and ESPN. It also operates a 300-seat call centre for Indian clients.

Maurice Lévy, chairman and chief executive of Publicis, said the Indian company would help his group expand its capabilities in India and other parts of Asia.

He said Publicis has worked with the company for clients including Hewlett-Packard.

“It’s something which could not have been built by us overnight,” said Mr Lévy, one of the many western chief executives who have found time to visit India in recent months. “You have some fantastic people there – great professionals.”

Publicis said it was not disclosing the purchase price because Solutions Integrated Marketing was a private company.

It said some of the payment would be in the form of an “earn out”, which kicks in when an acquired company meets certain targets.

Mr Lévy said Publicis began talking with Solutions Integrated Marketing late last year.

He said the deal was particularly attractive because it would help Publicis increase its revenues from marketing services.

He said developing countries such as India could see explosive growth in marketing services – which could include everything from staging promotional events to helping companies figure out better ways to sell their wares in stores.

“There is almost no infrastructure in marketing services,” he said. “The growth that you can expect is huge because we are starting from a very low base.”

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