A second round runoff between hard-left French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon and his far-right opponent Marine Le Pen would be the "worst-case scenario" for France, the chief executive of Publicis, Maurice Levy, one of the world's largest advertising agencies, has said.
"The worst nightmare you can imagine is a second round where you have Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Mélenchon. That is the worst-case scenario," he said, speaking to CNBC moments after the release of disappointing first-quarter results for the French multinational agency.
The business saw organic revenues decline by 1.2 percent in the first three months of the year. This was a slight improvement on analyst predictions, however, which forecast a slide of 1.8 percent. Nonetheless, the firm expects to see continued declines until the second half of 2017, when Levy says it will be "up and running" and return to normal growth.
Political uncertainty has had a direct impact on results, Levy said Thursday, saying that businesses had been holding off on investment in the hope that the volatility will pass.
Yet despite the uncertainty of the upcoming French election, which will kick off with the first round of voting on Sunday, France emerged as one of Publicis' strongest markets so far this year, achieving 12 percent growth. Levy said this was as result of Publicis gaining increased market share, rather than strong market fundamentals in France.
"Reason will prevail" however, Levy said, predicting that French voters will bump off extreme candidates which could have further undermined political stability by the time of the second round, which is scheduled for May 7.
"The French people will have strong rationale to vote for a more reasonable candidate," he said.
Europe more generally saw growth of 5 percent for the company, meanwhile the U.S. was responsible for "most of our issues", said Levy, describing a disconnect between the recent market euphoria and limited underlying growth. He said he expected this to pick up in late-2017 and early-2018.
The results were Levy's swan song after serving as Publicis' chief executive for three decades. He will move on to become chairman of the group's advisory board, meanwhile his successor Arthur Sadoun, who is currently chief executive of Publicis Communications, will assume the reins from Levy on May 31.
Levy said that "new growth solutions" had been implemented and would show results under Sadoun's leadership.