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Interpublic Chief Focuses on Future

Michael Roth Tells Media Conferences He's Glad 2005 Is Over

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Interpublic Group of Cos.' chairman-CEO, Michael Roth, brought a little levity to the third-largest advertising holding company's troubles during a pair of addresses to investors today.


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Conference presentation
He gamely kicked off a 45-minute presentation at a conference held by Credit Suisse First Boston with a slide showing a boilerplate "Cautionary Statement" depicting all the usual warnings about "forward-looking statements" and so forth.

"I've been spending a lot of time with lawyers lately," he quipped.

Mr. Roth was referring to a six-month look into Interpublic's books, culminating in September when the company restated over $500 million in earnings over a five-year period. That, along with the loss of major pieces of business like Bank of America's integrated marketing work and General Motors Corp.'s media-buying account, dominated Interpublic's year.

New plan expected
In the first quarter of 2006, Mr. Roth is expected to give more details about how he plans to improve trouble spots, like Interpublic's media services and Lowe Worldwide, an agency network trying to get back on its feet after years of client losses.

Most recently Lowe's London office lost its $80 million Tesco account to a startup created by the agency's founder, Frank Lowe, who is being joined in the new shop by Lowe London Chairman Paul Weinberger.

'Difficult situation'
"It's a difficult situation," Mr. Roth said. "We need to institutionalize client relationships."

Interpublic's stock fell to a two-year low of $9.15 a share less than an hour before Mr. Roth made his presentation at another media conference, put on by UBS. There, Mr. Roth said the past year had been "interesting," adding: "I think we would like to put 2005 behind us and focus on the future."

The stock ended the day at $9.28.

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Bradley Johnson contributed to this report.

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