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Growing ad spending in North America, Latin America and Asia helped drive double-digit earnings growth at Publicis Groupe for the first half of the year, the Paris-based holding company reported. Publicis Groupe's net income increased 23% to $97.6 million for the first half of the year. Publicis, which owns Leo Burnett USA and Starcom Media-Vest Group, both Chicago, reported its operating margin was up 14.4%, driven largely by the decline in personnel and other operating expenses connected with the integration of Bcom3. Publicis also announced the creation of Publicis Groupe Media, a new management structure for its media buying and consultancy operations, including Starcom MediaVest and Zenith-Optimedia. PGM will be led by Publicis Chief Operating Officer Roger Haupt and include eight media unit executives.

Havas predicts growth in '04

Havas, like its European brethren, suffered from the impact of a weak dollar in the third quarter. The holding company, parent of agency network Euro RSCG Worldwide and media buying and planning unit MPG, said last week that revenue rose 2.1% to $433 million over the year-ago period, but on a constant currency basis declined 6.2%. In North America, revenue declined 0.9%. Speaking to investors, Havas Chairman-CEO Alain de Pouzilhac said he expects "positive organic growth for the full year."

Braun to develop Yahoo content

To satisfy an audience increasingly equipped with high-speed broadband Internet services, Yahoo appointed entertainment heavyweight Lloyd Braun, a former chairman of Walt Disney Co.'s ABC Entertainment Television Group, to head of Yahoo's media and entertainment unit, which includes Yahoo's movies, TV, music, games and business sites. "Content is the No. 1 reason people come to the Internet," said Joanna Stevens, Yahoo spokeswoman, and Mr. Braun can expand and enhance the content through his "very deep and longstanding entertainment relationships." At Disney, Mr. Braun was responsible for such programs as "Desperate Housewives" and "The Bachelor."

Time Warner 3Q growth `tepid'

Time Warner revealed the cost of its three new magazines, All You, Cottage Living and Nuts, in its third quarter earnings release. Incremental expenses related to the launches were $10 million. Results included good and bad news on the advertising front. Ad revenue grew 14% at the publishing unit and 12% at Turner Networks, which include CNN, TBS and TNT, though The WB suffered a 3% decline in ad revenue because of poor ratings. While the cable networks brought in double-digit growth, a Merrill Lynch research note indicated that performance was not as strong as at rival Viacom, where cable TV ad revenue was up 15%. The note, issued by media analyst Jessica Reif Cohen, said "growth from advertising across segments appears more tepid than Time Warner's peers." AdAge.com QwikFIND aaq10a

FYI...

Internet advertising-services company DoubleClick hired New York investment bank Lazard Freres & Co. to "explore strategic options for the business" to improve shareholder value. Doubleclick said its options include a sale of part or all of its businesses or a spin-off, as well as transactions such as an extraordinary dividend or share repurchase. AdAge.com QwikFIND aaq09f ...Time Inc.'s Time4Media said its action-sports unit TransWorld will cease publishing its youth-skewing active sports ski title Freeze, while its TransWorld BMX will be folded into Ride BMX. Next spring, TransWorld plans to launch an as-yet-untitled all-terrain-vehicle title. AdAge.com QwikFIND aaq09r...Energizer Holdings CEO Pat Mulcahy, 59, will step down in January and be succeeded by Chief Operating Officer Ward Klein, 49. AdAge.com QwikFIND aaq09s

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