Publicis’ Levy: ‘There Is Nothing Big Left To Buy’


It looks like Publicis Groupe’s three-year digital acquisition binge may be slowing down. It’s not for a lack of desire on the part of the man who kicked off the digital M&A frenzy with the $1.6 billion purchase of Digitas in December 2006. As Publicis CEO Maurice Levy tells the WSJ, “There is nothing big left to buy.”

The remarks come ahead of Publicis’ annual general meeting on Tuesday. Levy, who has been with the Paris-based ad holding company since 1971 and has held the CEO seat since 1987, is expected to provide an update on the progress the company has made in deriving an increasing share of its total revenues from digital marketing.

In its Q1 earning report, Publicis’ revenue reversed last year’s decline to end up 8.1 percent, thanks in large part to a 15 percent gain from digital ad spend. Online now makes up 27 percent of Publicis’ revenues.

Aside from the focus on digital, Levy, like his rival at WPP Group Martin Sorrell, has sought to build up the company’s presence in emerging markets. Those expansion efforts have included some digital functions as well. That was part of the attraction for Publicis’ decision in March to take a 5 percent stake in São Paulo-based full service agency Taterka Comunicações.

But after spending $530 million to buy Razorfish from Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), or the other millions it took to bring smaller international digital agencies such as Performics, Interactif and Tribal into the fold, it’s natural for Levy to experience a little acquisition fatigue. Still, if there’s anything else out there that will help advance its digital goals, Levy, who is expected to stay in the top job through 2011, is still just as likely to jump on it.

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