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(May 14, 2001) -- Publicis Groupe announced an 8.2% growth in billings for the first quarter of 2001 compared with the same period last year, excluding the first-time contributions from the acquisitions of Saatchi & Saatchi and Nelson Communication during the second half of 2000.

Factoring in acquisitions, Publicis' billings jumped by 78.3% during the first quarter to $3.13 billion. Publicis is the world's sixth largest advertising organization, with gross income of $2.4 billion in 2000 and billings of $29.3 billion, according to Advertising Age figures.

During the last year, the regional balance has swung to North America, which now accounts for 49.5% of the group's billings, up from 40.8% during the first quarter of 2000. Europe's role has diminished by the same amount, with European billings now accounting for 38% of the group's billings, down from 48% a year ago.

Publicis said in a statement that the group won $700 million in new business during the first quarter. At the Publicis Worldwide agency network, gains included Siemens, Iomega, ATA Airlines and Lens Express in the U.S., and Korea Telecom and Renault Samsung in Korea. Saatchi & Saatchi won the Sudameris bank in Brazil, and Fallon Worldwide picked up United Airlines in the U.K. -- Laurel Wentz

Copyright May 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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