WPP boss warns US uncertainty can strike again

Oliver Smith
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UNCERTAINTY has shaken the US advertising market, WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell said yesterday, blaming the political stalemate in Washington DC that nearly led to the country defaulting on its debt.

Sorrell, whose company reported a five per cent jump in third quarter revenues yesterday, said he is worried the issue could easily crop up again next year and start affecting WPP’s clients.

“The companies we deal with don’t want to be exposed to it. In these circumstances uncertainty rules, you don’t make decisions, you don’t make investments, you don’t hire people, until the environment looks better,” Sorrell told City A.M.

WPP’s third quarter results to 30 September showed no signs of the impact, beating estimates with revenues of £2.68bn, buoyed by strong UK and US growth of 8.1 per cent and 4.6 per cent respectively.

Despite the upcoming $35bn Omnicom and Publicis merger – into a group Sorrell jokingly refers to as POG – he remains bullish even on countries where WPP’s growth is slowing.

“In China we have 15 per cent market share, we’re twice as big as even the merged POG and they’re starting to suffer. It’s quite clear from their numbers, from having made some injudicious acquisitions... and that is starting to bite into their business.”

After WPP’s share price leapt 2.7 per cent yesterday morning it closed up nearly one per cent at 1,325p.