A leap in global adspend driven by the soccer World Cup, plus the Asian economic bonanza, pushed WPP Group to a 30% hike in pre-tax H1 profits.

The planet's second-largest agency holding company on Friday reported headline profits - before tax, goodwill impairment, amortisation, investment and writedowns - up to £333.2 million ($631.08m; €490.35m) in the six months to June 30, compared with £221.5m in the year-ago period.

Crowed a WPP spokesman: "[The figures] represent record first half results, reflecting continued significant improvement over last year and further evidence of growth across the whole business, both functionally and geographically."

Despite bearish reports to the contrary [WAMN: 18-Aug-06] UK sales achieved a respectable growth rate of 8%. However, this was eclipsed by the Asia Pacific and Latin America regions, in both of which revenue growth reached 30%. In the USA, revenues leapt 17% and in continental Europe by 12%

Asia's explosive growth is exemplified by greater China (including Hong Kong and Taiwan), where WPP expects revenues this year to reach between 4%-5% of total sales - approximately £264m.

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