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Omnicom profits rise 13% in fourth quarter

LONDON - Omnicom has increased its fourth quarter post-tax profits by 13.2% to $313.9m (£160.1m), giving it record annual profits of $975.7m last year, and snapped up Auckland-based digital consultancy Shift.

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The US-based marketing services group, which is the world's biggest ahead of WPP Group, kicked off the reporting season. Results from Publicis Groupe and Havas will be released this Thursday, and WPP and Interpublic on February 29.

The 13% rise in fourth quarter post-tax profits was matched by a 12.7% rise in revenues to $3.6m.

Annual revenues rose 11.6% to $12.7bn, with US revenues up 8.2% to $6.7bn and international revenues up 15.6% to $6bn.

Analysts have forecast that WPP will record 2007 revenues of £6.1bn, leaving Omnicom top of the global holding company league by income.

John Wren, chief executive of Omnicom, talked about the possible impact of the economic slowdown in the US during a conference call and said he had seen no sign of clients cutting budgets.

According to Reuters, Wren described the company's clients as "a little bit nervous about the economy", but added that "we haven't seen any major or serious cutbacks in spending as of today".

Omnicom shares rose 3.87% from yesterday's US close to $47.22.

Omnicom has acquired a majority interest in Shift, a digital consultancy in New Zealand with offices in Auckland and Wellington.

Shift will work closely with TBWA, Tequila and Worldwide, helping to enhance the TBWA\Group's digital offering on a global basis.

Michael Birkin, Omnicom's vice-chairman and chairman and chief executive of Asia Pacific, said: "The investment in Shift is an exciting addition to our fast growing digital capabilities in the Asia Pacific region. We are enormously impressed with the quality of their work and the diverse range of their clients."

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