JOHANNESBURG--Burson-Marsteller has acquired a majority stake in South African consultancy Arcay Communications, marking the WPP firm’s first ownership position in Africa.

Arcay Communications has been B-M’s exclusive affiliate partner on the continent since 2007. The full-service firm was the Holmes Report’s African Agency of the Year in 2009, and will now be known as Arcay Burson-Marsteller.

“Our decision to take this majority stake in Arcay underlines the great importance of the African continent to our clients – and it offers us significant opportunities to expand our global business. This strategic move demonstrates our commitment to serving our clients in every part of the world,” said Mark Penn, global CEO of Burson-Marsteller.

Arcay was founded by Robyn de Villers in 1989. In addition to its Johannesburg office, the firm also possesses an extensive affiliate network, covering more than 50 countries throughout Africa.

B-M EMEA CEO Jeremy Galbraith added that the next decade would bring “immense growth in the PR industry across Africa.”  

Shared clients already include HP, Shell, Total, Accenture, and South African health company Discovery. De Villers pointed out that while the opportunity was currently greater in terms of MNCs looking at Africa, opportunities were also growing in the opposite direction.

"There’s definitely an increase in African companies looking outward," she said. "I think the biggest focus is on doing business with China and India."