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(Aug. 13, 2001) LONDON -- Publicis Groupe's key acquisitions of Saatchi & Saatchi and Nelson Communications in the second half of 2000 have contributed to the French advertising group posting billings of $6.71 billion for the first half of this year, up 65% on the same period in 2000.

Net organic growth on constant exchange rates was 6.3%, with Europe posting the highest regional growth at 8.2% followed by Latin America/Other (7.1%), North America (5%) and Asia/Pacific (2.7%).

Growth in new business came mainly from its Publicis Worldwide network, Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide, Fallon Worldwide and Optimedia, which Publicis merged with Zenith Media at the end of July.

Commenting on results, Maurice Levy, chairman of the Publicis Groupe, said, "Despite a generally gloomy economy, and while trends remain uncertain in advertising markets and published forecasts have undergone repeated downward revision, Publicis Groupe achieved satisfactory billings in the first half with total growth of 65% and organic growth of the expanded group of 6.3%. Over the same period, it is estimated that worldwide market growth in the sector was under 2%."

He added, though, that "we don't expect any spectacular improvement in the second half but we believe that advertising spending could pick up again due to some particular segments."

Publicis will post first-half income results on Sept. 13. -- Ali Qassim

Copyright August 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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