Omnicom to Leverage Recession for Value Acquisitions: Wren

24 July 2008

NEW YORK: Despite the economic downturn it's more boom than gloom at the planet's largest marketing services conglomerate Omnicom Group, where president/ceo John Wren (pictured) believes market conditions favor good-value acquisitions.

Speaking via conference call to analysts, Wren flaunted his famed caution in matters fiscal: "As many of you know, we've been very conservative [about acquisitions]. I'm still hopeful, though, that we'll start to see pricing come more in line with our stark expectations."

And with a sidelong glance at his more profligate rivals, Wren continued: "One positive side of the economic slowdown is a reduction in the financial buyers interested in our industry.

"Additionally, some of our competitors who have aggressively paid – in our opinion – uneconomic prices for some of their acquisitions have weakened their balance sheets and will be limited going forward in their ability to do acquisitions.

"As a result, we're hopeful that pricing will become more sensible, and we expect that we'll do more deals."

But not, apparently, yet awhile. "We don't have anything teed up that you'll see in the third quarter," Wren admitted.

Meantime, Omnicom continues to deliver shareholder-joy, posting a 12.2% year-on-year increase in profit to $515.6 million (€326.1m; £258.56m) for the first half of 2008, attributing the rise to vigorous organic growth and a robust new-business record.

In Q2 net income rose 11% to $307m, while worldwide revenues in that period grew 11.2% year-on-year to $3.5 billion. The biggest revenue contribution was delivered by the CRM category.

Countering torpid growth in Italy, the UK and Spain, the BRIC nations and the Middle East continued to increase their contribution to Omnicom's coffers.

Stateside revenue growth defied "the difficult operating environment for many of our clients," but Wren played down the impact of recently departed accounts like AT&T and Dell Computer.

Numbers were conspicuous by their absence, however, when it came to forecasting the year's second half. Wren remained  cautious, noting that the automotive sector and financial-services categories are likely to present an ongoing challenge.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff