Sorrell shoots down Havas, Dentsu buy for WPP

LONDON: WPP Group CEO Martin Sorrell dismissed rumors that the holding company is looking to buy either Havas or Dentsu as complete "speculation" and a "figment" of the imagination, in an interview with CNBC.

LONDON: WPP Group CEO Martin Sorrell dismissed rumors that the holding company is looking to buy either Havas or Dentsu as complete "speculation" and a "figment" of the imagination, in an interview with CNBC.

Sorrell said that rather than making a mega-deal, the company will focus on making acquisitions in the new markets of digital and data investment management. He also said WPP will keep focusing on the lower-middle to middle-class [consumer] markets, which he said continue to be “very strong.”

Talking after WPP reported increased profits in its interim results on Thursday, Sorrell said the holding company had rather upped its targets for fast-growth markets and digital in preparation for the upcoming Publicis Groupe-Omnicom Group merger. In the PR sector, the holding company owns and operates Ogilvy Public Relations, Burson-Marsteller, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Cohn & Wolfe, RLM Finsbury, and others.

“That's where we're going to put the focus of our attention on, particularly in the post-POG [Publicis Omnicom Group] world,” he said. “If the POG does pass the regulation hurdles in whatever form, then all it does is accelerate the implementation of our strategy, which is why we have upped our targets for fast-growth markets and for digital."

The comments come after the company published its interim results for the six months ending in June, which showed the group saw a 2.7% like-for-like revenue increase in the second quarter to $4.3 billion. However, PR and public affairs revenue dropped 3.1% on a like-for-like basis in Q2 to nearly $366 million.

WPP said revenues were stronger in July than they were in the first six months of the year, up 5% on a like-for-like basis.

Sorrell said that, while the July revenue had accelerated, “one swallow doesn't make a summer, so we have to see what happens with the next five months.”

He added the areas of concern were capital investment in China, India, and Brazil, where he said there had been a “slowdown in investment.”

However, Sorrell said capital investment was not where the business' heart was, and added that the group's focus was the consumer category, which had expanded with hundreds of millions of new buyers.

This story originally appeared on the website of Campaign UK.

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