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Omnicom Chief Scouts for Acquisitions Outside Europe This Year

Omnicom Group CEO John Wren
“We’ve been very wise with our money and we generate a lot of cash flow and we can borrow a lot if we want to as well,” Chief Executive Officer John Wren said in an interview in Barcelona today at a conference organized by Morgan Stanley. Source: Omnicom Group Inc. via Bloomberg

Nov. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Omnicom Group Inc., the world’s second-largest advertising company, is seeking acquisitions beyond Europe, and expects to buy several companies before the end of the year.

“We’ve been very wise with our money and we generate a lot of cash flow and we can borrow a lot if we want to as well,” Chief Executive Officer John Wren said yesterday in an interview in Barcelona at a conference organized by Morgan Stanley.

Omnicom, which owns ad agencies including BBDO and TBWA, is looking at digital companies as well as those specializing in mobile phone ads as consumers increasingly turn to smartphones to surf the Internet. Wren said he wants to buy companies in fast-growing markets and is looking at Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East, as well as the U.S., where changes to tax rules may prompt some owners to sell this year.

Omnicom and peers including WPP Plc and Publicis Groupe SA are pushing into new areas such as Brazil and the Middle East to counter slowing growth in more mature markets and the economic slowdown in Europe. Wren said there were “quite a number of companies” up for sale that could help New York-based Omnicom expand about 200 brand platforms.

The company last month reported third-quarter revenue of $3.4 billion and earnings per share of 74 cents.

The shares fell 1.4 percent to close at $46.01 in New York, valuing the company at $12.2 billion.

Omnicon is still cautious in terms of forecasting a turning point in the advertising market amid the current macroeconomic and business conditions conditions, according to the executive.

There’s “nothing that marks a change in the headlines that are out there today,” Wren said. In the future, “I’m optimistic that we’ll get through it.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Manuel Baigorri in Barcelona at mbaigorri@bloomberg.net; Kristen Schweizer in London at kschweizer1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net

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