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Publicis on the acquisition trail for DM and PR agencies after 40% surge in profits

PARIS - Publicis Groupe's chief executive Maurice Levy has said that the company is on the hunt for acquisitions, including direct marketing and PR agencies, after seeing a 40% surge in profits.

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Primary targets would be direct marketing and other customer-relationship businesses in the US, as well as European and Asian public relations agencies.

Levy said he would be targeting firms with revenues of between €100m (£69.6m) and €300m.

Publicis owns the DM agency Publicis Dialog, along with Arc, Frankel and the Triangle Group. Its public relations interests include MS&L and Publicis Consultants.

Media agencies could also be on the menu, to add to ZenithOptimedia and Starcom MediaVest. Publicis is already the second-biggest media buying power in the industry.

There could also be a possible non-equity tie-up with French rival Havas, which has been looking for a media partner for its media planning and buying business MPG.

Levy said: "We are targeting bigger acquisitions. We now have the resources to go to a new level of growth, a new acquisition plan. We have some very clear targets."

Publicis unveiled its full-year results for 2004 yesterday, revealing a rise in full-year net profits of 40% to €210m, and organic growth of 4% after putting in a strong new-business performance.

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