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Grey Global revenues remain 'essentially flat' for 2002

NEW YORK - Income at the Grey Global Group fell by 1.4% during 2002 to $1.19bn (£750m) as the group, which owns the Grey Worldwide advertising agency, described its performance as 'essentially flat'.

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The fall in overall income notwithstanding, Grey did see a 10.5% rise in commissions and fees in the last quarter of 2002, to $333.6m from $301.9m. Net earnings for the quarter were $9.5m, up from $3.6m.

It said this was because of strength at the company's North American operations and the impact of a weaker dollar on international revenues. Grey said that revenues from its North American operations were up 3% for the year, but that outside North America revenues decreased by 5%. It blamed this fall on weakness in certain Northern European and Latin American markets.

The strength of its US operations and its weakness elsewhere was underlined last week, as Grey Worldwide London announced that it was axing 48 jobs at the agency as part of moves to make it more profitable. The restructuring came after Garry Lace joined the agency as chief executive from TBWA late last year.

However, the bad news at Grey London was offset by MediaCom's UK performance. The agency overtook Carat to become the biggest media shop in the country on the back of a 7% rise in income.

New-business wins throughout the year for Grey included CIBA Vision and E&J Gallo wines in the US; and Wal-Mart, Banco Santander, Otto Versand and Konig Beer internationally. MediaCom picked up global work for Mars, Shell Oil and Volkswagen, while Grey Direct's wins included the United Airlines' Mileage Plus programme and Xerox.

The company also extended its relationship with one of its biggest clients, Procter & Gamble, winning the Clairol hair colouring products, Zest globally and corn chip brand Torrengos in the US.

Shares in the company, which is reported to be between 25% and 33% owned by chairman and CEO Ed Meyer and his family, fell by 0.8% to $610 on the Nasdaq yesterday, with 800 shares being traded in the company. This was a fall of $5.

Grey Global Group also owns Grey Direct and the public relations network GCI Group.

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