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MarchFirst, ad giant launch Japan venture

Furthering its presence overseas, the Net consultancy introduces a joint consulting venture with Japanese advertising giant Dentsu.

Furthering its presence overseas, Net consultancy MarchFirst on Tuesday introduced a joint consulting venture with Japanese advertising giant Dentsu.

MarchFirst and Dentsu together will invest approximately $30 million in the new venture, to be named DentsuMarchFirst. The new company will provide Japan-based businesses with a range of professional and advertising services including help with Web development and Internet strategy.

The move comes at a tough time for most Internet consulting firms, as a number of them are struggling with an abrupt market shift from serving dot-com clients to landing lengthier, more lucrative consulting engagements with Fortune 500 clients.

Chicago-based MarchFirst, which was created by the merger of Whittman-Hart and USWeb/CKS, and Dentsu already serve mutual clients and plan to officially launch the new venture by January. The start-up will be seeded with approximately 40 employees from both companies. Koichi Segawa, a veteran Dentsu executive, will become representative director and will act as the chairman of the board for the new company.

MarchFirst, which has already branched out in Europe, Latin America and other Asian countries, has approximately 10,000 employees and has done work for clients such as Williams-Sonoma, Harley-Davidson and Excite@Home. Dentsu, based in Tokyo, is an advertising behemoth that boasts about 80 of Japan's top 100 advertisers as its clients.