"The figures speak for themselves," Mr. Levy said in a
statement. "Our financial situation is extremely robust and enables
us to look ahead to the future with serenity."
North America, the group's statement said, "achieved a
remarkable turnaround, posting growth of 9.9% in 2010, after strong
resilience in 2009 thanks to the high contribution of digital
services to the region's revenue." Thanks to Publicis' ownership of
the two largest digital agencies by U.S. revenue, Razorfish and Digitas, digital businesses accounted
for 42% of North American revenue in 2010.
After a bad 2009, Europe returned to organic growth of 6% in
2010. (Organic growth strips out acquisitions, disposals and
currency effects.) France, a big market for Publicis, was the best
performer in the region with growth of 11.2%.
Asia-Pacific recorded 7% growth, while Latin America's growth
rate was 13.7%, due to strong performances in Mexico, Argentina,
Venezuela and Colombia. Africa and the Middle East grew 4.8%.
The Paris-based group, which owns Saatchi &
Saatchi, Publicis, Leo Burnett and ZenithOptimedia, plans
to continue on the acquisition trail. Last year Publicis Groupe
bought two agencies in the hot Brazilian market, digital shop AG2
and Brazil's biggest remaining independent, Talent Group, and two
in China --integrated agency G4 and W&K Beijing Advertising) --
and even three agencies in Romania. This year, Publicis has already
acquired U.K. agency Chemistry, for $23.27 million.
Major new business wins in 2010 included Nokia, French
Connection, Chrysler, Arla Foods, Reckitt Benckiser, Merrill Lynch,
Mr. Levy is expected to stay on as chairman and CEO of Publicis
after his contract expires at the end of this year, it is not known
for how long he will remain. He agreed in June 2010 to stay on
until the end of 2011.
Mr. Levy's current employment contract expires at the end of
this year, but he's unlikely to retire then as chairman and CEO and
may continue in his current role indefinitely. The succession issue was
raised last June and Mr. Levy said then "To the question put to me
by the supervisory board, I said that I would stay on board as long