WPP advertising group sees profits jump

Sir Martin Sorrell: "We have been number two before... Being a challenger brand has its virtues, it energises you a bit more"

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Advertising group WPP has reported a jump in profits and an improved outlook for the rest of the year.

WPP, currently the biggest advertising company in the world, reported half-year pre-tax profits of £427.1m, up 19% from a year earlier.

It is forecasting revenue growth of 3% for the whole of 2013.

Chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell brought the company back to the UK this year, having moved its base to Ireland in 2008 to reduce its tax bill.

WPP is expected to lose its position as the world's biggest advertising firm if a merger between its two largest rivals, Omnicom and Publicis, goes ahead.

The merger plan was announced last month, taking the advertising world by surprise.

Reasons for optimism

Speaking to the BBC, Sir Martin said that the challenge posed by the Omnicom and Publicis merger was not unwelcome.

"We have been number two before, we've been number two three times before. Being a challenger brand has its virtues, it energises you a bit more."

The company said that the while there were many challenges remaining in the global economy, especially in the eurozone, 2014 looked to be a "better prospect".

WPP said that there were reasons for optimism, "with the World Cup in Brazil, the Winter Olympics in Sochi and, would you believe, another United States election - the mid-term Congressionals".

Sir Martin added that he felt "pretty good" about the economic climate, despite potential problems from "the Middle East, the eurozone, and speculation over growth rates for the so-called Bric countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China)".

He said that WPP's focus would be on new markets and new media.

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