Publicis warns on global uncertainty

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Global instability and corporate caution continues to drag on Publicis Groupe, the world’s third largest advertising and media group by revenues, which reported a small shrinkage in organic revenues in the final set of quarterly results for its chairman and chief executive Maurice Lévy before he stands down next month.

Publicis said on Thursday that organic revenues dropped 1.2 per cent in the first three months of the year, and reported revenues of €2.33bn during the quarter.

The US division posted a drop in organic revenues of 5 per cent. Meanwhile, its other geographical regions all posted positive organic growth, with its home European market up 5.5 per cent, Asia Pacific up 0.8 per cent, and the Middle East and Africa up 1.5 per cent.

At a group level, Publicis warned that instability continues to prevail in the international environment.

Mr Levy, who is set to stand down as chief executive of Publicis on May 31 and become chairman of its supervisory board, told the Financial Times:

Especially in the US, there is euphoria in the stock market but no correlation with the growth of companies and growth of the economy. Most clients have sold balance sheets and robust financial possibilities but at the same time are quite cautious when it comes to investment.

He added: “Clients are still in wait-and-see mode and are quite troubled by the geopolitical situation,” pointing to a likely hard Brexit, the unpredictable nature of US president Donald Trump’s decision-making, and imminent elections in France and Germany.

In its 2016 full-year results, Publicis posted a net loss of €527m mainly due to problems in the US.

Lower US revenues were driven by the loss of media accounts and serious issues at its digital agency Razorfish, where it booked an impairment charge connected to merging Razorfish with another of its digital divisions, SapientNitro.

Mr Levy said: “We still have a few difficult months ahead but all signs indicate that we are surmounting pass difficulties and will return to positive growth in the second half of the year.”

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