Publicis Groupe ‘Formally Rejects’ Anonymous Letter Alleging Financial Improprieties

By Patrick Coffee Comment

Publicis Groupe has released a very unusual statement today asserting that its financial house is very much in order, no matter what some rogue parties may want to imply.

The brief, cryptic statement went live via international press wires just over an hour ago, and it seems intended to counter an “anonymous letter” about alleged improprieties in the holding group’s finances. Publicis also sent the release out to various media organizations as it went live.

Specifically, the release says the letter, which went out to “auditors and some financial analysts,” accused Publicis of inflating or overvaluing its organic growth for the years 2016 and 2017 by way of “an early application of IFRS 15.”

It goes on to state that the company “formally rejects these allegations,” asserting that the letter’s author “obviously has no knowledge of accounting standards and is proceeding by amalgam, for the sole purpose of creating doubt and disturbing the reality of Publicis Groupe’s figures.”

Earlier in the release, the language describes this letter as a “destablization attempt” by an individual or individuals who will somehow profit or achieve other, unspecified goals by sowing uncertainty among Publicis shareholders.

These actions somewhat resemble those taken by “activist investors” who look to pressure company management.

The release does not clarify how Publicis allegedly used IFRS to overstate its growth. IFRS is a new international standard “providing guidance on accounting for revenue from contracts with customers” that went into effect earlier this month.

The holding company reported modest growth last summer when analysts predicted negative numbers, but its disappointing Q3 results led to a large October stock drop from which it has yet to recover.

A Publicis spokesperson declined to elaborate beyond the release.