Agency Consolidation: 'End in Sight,' Says Publicis Boss

14 February 2005

The pendulum of consolidation within the global agency sector is nearing the end of its swing, according to Publicis Groupe chairman/ceo Maurice Lévy.

"Only marginal benefits and sometimes some headaches" remain, he opined. The assessment comes as rival French holding company Havas waits for corporate raider Vincent Bolloré to make his 20% stockholding play - although Lévy refused comment on that scenario.

"The consolidation is coming to an end," he believes. "There are probably only one or two operations that can still be consolidated, but it is not something that will change the life of any of the big holding companies."

Lévy offered no insight as to when the pendulum might commence its reverse swing - perceived by some to be a twenty year cycle. Instead he contented himself by stating the obvious: that big holding companies offering a full range of marketing services rule the agency roost.

"When you look at the reviews and how new accounts are rewarded, there is a clear indication that it is definitely the game of the holding companies," he said.

The thoughts of chairman Levy accompanied the unveiling of Publicis' Q4 numbers. Like-for-like revenues during the period rose 2.4%, bringing overall revenue growth for 2004 to 4%, and lifting annual revenues to €3.8 billion ($4.89bn; £2.62bn).

The group won $1.8bn in new business during Q4, its best ever quarter. For the year as a whole, new accounts totalled $4.4bn.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff