IPG continues to outperform peers with 7.1 per cent growth

Interpublic continues to set the pace among the holding companies, with organic net revenue growth of 7.1 per cent in Q4 – way ahead of its peers. For the full year 2018, organic net revenue growth was 5.5 per cent.

IPG’s Q4 growth rate was 6.3 per cent in its home market of the US. French group Publicis, by contrast, went into negative growth of -2.6 per cent in North America in Q4, blaming budget cuts in the FMCG sector. IPG’s global clients include Coca-Cola, Microsoft, L’Oreal and Nespresso.

Total revenues were $9.71 billion, up from $9.05 billion in 2017, although this includes the $181.7 million from data company Acxiom, which IPG acquired for $2bn on October 1st.

IPG chairman and CEO Michael Roth said, “Overall, 2018 was a very successful year, with outstanding financial results, coupled with a significant, future-facing acquisition.“ He talked about the diverse culture at the group, and predicted a strong 2019.

Not everything has been going IPG’s way, however. It recently lost Fiat Chrysler North America’s media planning and buying account to Publicis Groupe’s Starcom and is laying off more than 200 employees in Detroit as a result. It also lost the lucrative US Army account to Omnicom towards the end of last year. Both losses will impact the 2019 numbers.

IPG, whose agency brands include McCann and MullenLowe, is smaller than the other holding companies. Its revenues are around $2bn less than its closest rival, Publicis Groupe, and less than half as much as Omnicom and WPP.

Roth, who has run IPG since 2005, is 72 and expected to retire at 75. No succession plan has been made public, although McCann Worldgroup boss Harris Diamond is thought to be up against chief talent and strategy officer, Philippe Krakowsky, as the top internal candidates for Roth’s role.

Omnicom’s organic growth was 3.2 per cent for Q4 and Publicis Group’s was down 0.3 per cent in the same period. WPP reports on March 1st.

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