Publicis Groupe is on the acquisition trail again as it tries to bolster its public relations portfolio.

The French holding company has decided to strengthen its PR offering, which is relatively weak compared with rivals WPP Group and Interpublic Group. It wants to build its two public relations networks -- Manning Selvage & Lee and Publicis Consultants -- into major global players.

"We need to develop the below-the-line activities, which quite frankly are a little bit less advanced, less developed, than what we have in advertising," declared Eric Giuily, president/ceo of Publicis Consultants.

At present, New York-based MS&L -- which Publicis acquired as part of its 2002 purchase of Bcom3 Group -- is focused in the US. Paris-headquartered Publicis Consultants, on the other hand, is big in France but has little presence elsewhere.

The holding group considered merging the two last year, but then decided to develop them separately. Now Publicis Consultants is on the lookout for acquisitions in Germany and Spain.

"We are also looking to develop ourselves in the UK in terms of financial communications," Giuily added.

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