Publicis Groupe, the globe's fourth largest advertising holding company by revenues, on Wednesday delivered a blistering set of first half results, hiking net income for the six months to June 30 by 49%, to €130 million ($157m; £90m).

Revenue rose 4.6% to €1.9 billion compared with €1.85 billion a year earlier. North America accounted for the group's largest H1 revenue increase, up 6.1% to €829 million.

The leap was driven by a number of major new stateside business wins, among them EchoStar Communications, J P Morgan & Chase and General Motors' media planning and buying account.

Chairman/ceo Maurice Lévy said the company's robust financial position will allow it to continue its growth through acquisition strategy. He has earmarked up to €300 million for that purpose and his attention is particularly focused on the Klondyke economies of China and India.

Says Lévy: "Our object is to make acquisitions in the region of €200 million to €300 million," adding the surprising corollary, "but I would be surprised if we can achieve that target."

His remark triggered an outbreak of northbound eyebrows among the press corps, to whom Lévy gently explained that his doubt is due to a paucity of suitable businesses for sale.

Among the jewels in Publicis Groupe's crown are the Leo Burnett, Saatchi & Saatchi and Publicis global networks; plus highrolling media shop Starcom MediaVest.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff