WPP's Sorrell dismisses talk of bid for Havas, Dentsu

WPP CEO Martin Sorrell on Thursday denied rumors that the advertising giant could be considering a bid for French rival Havas or Japan's Dentsu, saying the talk was "just surmise".

The planned merger between rivals Publicis and Omnicom announced at the end of July fueled talk that the group could retaliate with a bid for Havas or Dentsu.

Sorrell said the news had simply "energized" the group more than before to get on with its business. He said the group was focusing on its data investment management business and continued to believe that the $35.1 billion Publicis-Omnicom deal would be "at worst" neutral for the group.

"There's been little if any articulation of the client benefit," from the deal, he said, adding that clients received little information before the deal was announced.

His comments came after the advertising giant reported a 19 percent rise in first half pre-tax profit to £427 million ($662.2 million). Year to date comparable revenue growth was up 2.8 percent. In July alone, the group saw like-for like revenue grow 5 percent, the strongest rate this year.

"Revenues have been reasonably strong in the second quarter and have accelerated in July but one swallow doesn't make a summer," Sorrell said. "We have to wait and see what happens with the other five months, but when we're looking at about 3 percent plus [growth] for the the year and were already at 2.8 percent I think that augurs well."

He said the U.S. got stronger in July though Asia, Latin America and Africa and the Middle East were "much stronger than mature markets but not as strong as they were before."

Referring to an economic slowdown in emerging markets, he said the GDP growth in those regions was still strong and that growth in consumer goods would still continue.