IPG puts brave face on revenue decline

As revenues fall to $1.5 billion, the Interpublic boss Michael Roth remains bullish about the group's chances of recovery.

The strife-torn Interpublic this week declared itself on course to achieve its predicted turnaround, despite reporting further drops in revenue.

The company, whose plunging share price has been triggering renewed takeover speculation, delivered second-quarter revenues of $1.53 billion, compared with $1.61 billion during the same period one year ago.

At the same time, revenue for the first half of 2006 was down to $2.86 billion. The corresponding figure for the previous year was $2.94 billion.

IPG blamed last year's client losses for the depressed levels of organic revenue growth, but claimed this was now being offset by new-business wins and increased spending by existing clients.

Michael Roth, the IPG chairman, said the second quarter had also seen the first indications of a drop in the millions of dollars-worth of professional fees that the holding company has been forced to pay to get its financial house in order. "A major focus for the balance of this year will be on managing costs and delivering margin improvement," he added.

IPG's announcement came a few hours after Havas issued a denial of reports in the French press that it would establish a joint media-buying venture with IPG by the end of January next year.

Havas, along with Publicis Groupe and WPP, is believed to be among the interested parties should IPG be forced to sell off its assets. They include McCann Worldgroup, Lowe Worldwide and the newly merged Draft/FCB.

The group reported a modest decrease in organic revenue growth in the UK, continental Europe and the US, but reported solid performances elseswhere.

- Comment, page 36.