Publicis takes control of major Middle East network

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PARIS--Publicis, Europe's fourth and the world's 12th largest ad agency network, has acquired a majority stake in the Middle East's fourth largest advertising network, PubliGraphics. The deal is unusual for the region because, unlike the rest of the world, the largest networks are owned by indigenous companies with international networks holding minority stakes or having nonequity affiliations with local networks.

Publi-Graphics, headed by Mustapha Assad, has 300 employees in offices in Dubai, Lebanon, Kuwait, Abu-Dhabi, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Turkey. Its clients include Burger King, Gulf Hygienic Group, Henkel, L'Oreal, Matsushita, National Commercial Bank, Nestle, Red Bull, Saudi British Bank, Seiko, Sharp, Stafford-Miller and Unilever.

Public-Graphics had a 1998 gross income in the Middle East of $20.5 million and billings of $136.7 million, according to Ad Age's Agency Report. The region is lead by Promoseven Holding (gross income $33.5 million), in which McCann-Erickson Worldwide holds a 49% stake; Intermarkets ($22.4 million), a non-equity affiliate of TBWA International; and TMI, a non-equity affiliate of J. Walter Thompson Co.

Publicis is already present in the Middle East through Publicis Ariely and AB Data in Israel.

Copyright July 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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