The world's third-largest communications group is in negotiations to buy out the remainder of a Middle East advertising network it first invested in 12 years ago.
Publicis Worldwide says it is looking to buy out 100 per cent of the advertising network Publicis Graphics, which has a presence in more than 10 Middle Eastern cities.
Publicis Worldwide is the largest of three advertising networks run by the French firm Publicis Groupe, which is listed on the Euronext exchange. Its global clients include Nestle, L'Oreal and Chrysler.
"We own the majority of Publicis Graphics and we're in the process to negotiate to buy the 100 per cent right now," said Richard Pinder, the chief operating officer at Publicis Worldwide.
Publicis Graphics was founded in Lebanon in 1973, when it was known as Publi-Graphics, although it did not at the time have any connection with the Europe-listed communications firm.
In 1999, Publicis Worldwide bought a majority stake in Publi-Graphics. Mr Pinder said Mustapha Assad, who founded Publi-Graphics, and who is a major shareholder in it, recently left his management position in the company before a proposed buyout.
"Mustapha has left the role of chairman and CEO of Publicis Graphics in the Middle East … And I've taken it on temporarily while we finish the buying out and go round and seek a successor."
Publicis is reported to own a 60 per cent stake in the company. Mr Pinder did not provide an exact figure. He did not provide a completion date for the deal but said he hoped it would go through "very soon". Mr Pinder declined to specify the value of the deal.
Publicis Group said this year it had posted record revenue growth during the last quarter of last year. For the full year, the group posted revenue of €5.42 billion (Dh27.99bn), up 20 per cent from 2009. Maurice Levy, the chief executive, said at the time the group could "still do better in emerging markets", according to Dow Jones.
Mr Pinder said that, aside from the Publicis Graphics buyout, there were no details of other acquisitions in the region. But he said Publicis would continue to invest in the Middle East.
"The Middle East … requires our support, investment and encouragement to grow," he said.
"Our expectation is that fast-growing markets grow at 15 per cent a year. Do I think the Middle East will grow 15 per cent this year? No, because Egypt is clearly going to be a drag. But if you exclude extraordinary events, I think the growth is going to be close to double digits in the other markets."
Mr Pinder yesterday gave an address at the Dubai International Advertising Festival in which he outlined how "conversations" among consumers were becoming more important.
The Dubai festival also includes the Dubai Lynx awards, which are announced tonight.
Mr Pinder said Publicis Graphics had not historically submitted many entries for the awards, but added "we will see a lot more entries in the future".