Prospects for Asia

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Publicis Groupe President-CEO Maurice Levy said he wants to make acquisitions in Asia, and with good reason: the area's torrid growth potential.

Third-quarter results show Publicis' organic growth in Asia-Pacific up 10% over the previous year, more than double that of North America, with 4.1%. Revenue from the region jumped from $62.4 million to $114.8 million for the quarter. And speaking at a UBS media conference last month, Mr. Levy said that contrary to some comments from analysts, Asia is providing some of the strongest margins around.

The holding company has been positioning itself to take advantage of the market, given its close ties to Dentsu, the Japanese advertising giant that holds a 15.7% stake in Publicis Groupe.

The two companies have a joint venture in sports named International Sports & Entertainment, and Mr. Levy confirmed that the company won rights to run hospitality at the World Soccer Cup in Germany in 2006 "[ISE is] also trying to buy some international assets to sell them to advertisers," he added.

Publicis is discussing ways it can offer its clients a better solution in Asia and gain business from Dentsu clients looking to expand west. In October 2002, for example, Publicis helped Dentsu win new business from global client Hewlett-Packard Co. "We work with international clients to give them services where we don't have the knowledge in Japan. There is no large account we can't serve," said Mr. Levy. "[HP] made us a partner around the world. We are discussing this with a few other clients. We'll also help Japanese clients of Dentsu to be served in our areas."

With Starcom MediaVest Group and Zenith Optimedia working more closely around the world, Mr. Levy no doubt hopes to crack the traditionally closed media-buying market in Japan. "We are doing something in Japan where Publicis can expand upon its own position," he said, without providing further details.

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