PARIS: Publicis Groupe suffered a 6.5% decline in organic revenue in 2009, as advertisers reined in their expenditure during the economic downturn.

The French conglomerate said net earnings for the 12-month period reached €403m ($522m; £351m), down 9.8%, while total sales fell to €4.5bn, from €4.7bn in 2008.

However, Publicis chairman and ceo Maurice Lévy predicted the company would see a return to growth in 2010.

"One can still expect a few hurdles along the way, but the worst is over," he said.

Publicis gained market share last year, and signed up high-profile clients including Chrysler, the US carmaker, and Aviva, the UK's largest insurance provider.

"It would be no exaggeration to say that Publicis has weathered the crisis well, containing its negative impacts on both margin and growth," Lévy said.

"We have not yet come out of the crisis. We are in the process of getting out of it."

Lévy also put the results in the context of changes in the ad business as a whole, as well as the difficult macroeconomic conditions.

He cited "strategic initiatives", including the group's recent acquisition of interactive agency Razorfish from Microsoft, as contributing towards future good performance, with adspend trending away from traditional media and towards the online space.

Developing economies also recorded a stronger recovery from the global slowdown in 2009, as consumers in more mature markets scaled back their spending.

Reflecting these trends, Lévy said Publicis would aim to gain 60% of its revenue from digital and emerging markets in the future.

Data sourced from Publicis Groupe/Reuters; additional content by Warc staff