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IPG boss cool on acquisitions in Asia

Michael RothThe global boss of communications giant Interpublic Group, the owner of McCann, Lowe, UM and Initiative, has said that the company is taking a cautious approach to making investments in Asia.

In an interview with Mumbrella in Cannes today, Michael Roth, chairman and CEO of IPG, who has overseen the turnaround of a company that was labeled ‘junk status’ by the US stock market not long ago, said that his company would not be looking to be “spending huge amounts” on acquistions in the region because of uncertain market conditions.

“Our biggest challenge is coping with the macro economic environment, and there are parts of the world with issues, particularly Europe,” he said.

“We need to keep a close eye on making the right investments. And that applies to Asia too. It may take a bit longer than we’d like.”

Roth pointed at talent as an issue holding the region back.

“The question is, when will Asians run Asia? It’s important to have local people controlling the region,” he said.

“There are so many opportunities out there for us [in Asia], but it’s hard to make the most of them.”

“Talent is a critical issue, since we’re focusing on organic growth,” he said.

The acquisition targets in China are priced very high and it’s difficult to hold on to the best people once acquisitions have been made, Roth said.

On IPG’s competition, Roth said that WPP and Publicis have the upper hand as they have early mover advantage.

“But as long as we’re providing quality work, we’ll be ok. We don’t have to be bigger, we just have to be the best,” he said.

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