Publicis Groupe to strengthen Middle East operation with buyout of Publicis Graphics

It’s a brave company that decides to splash the cash in the Middle East at the moment but Publicis Groupe’s intrepid Maurice Levy is planning to do just that by buying the 40 per cent of regional network Publicis Graphics it doesn’t already own.

“We own the majority of Publicis Graphics and we’re in the process to negotiate to buy the 100 per cent right now,” says Richard Pinder (pictured), COO of Publicis Worldwide.

Publicis Graphics was formed as Publi-Graphics in Lebanon in 1973 by entrepreneur Mustapha Assad. Publicis Worldwide bought a majority stake in the agency, which operates in ten Middle Eastern cities, in 1999. Assad recently stepped down from his management role.

Holding company Publicis Groupe reported revenues of €5.42 billion in 2010, cementing its position as the third-biggest marcoms company behind WPP and Omnicom.

CEO Levy has admitted the company has been slow to expand in so-called emerging markets and has recently made a string of small acquisitions in Chine and Brazil and taken complete control of the company’s operations in the Balkans in a similar deal to Publicis Graphics.

The company says it expects growth to slow in the Middle East this year amidst the outbreak of pro-democratic protests in the region but then to resume at ten per cent plus thereafter.

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