UPDATE 1-WPP CEO sees 2014 revenue growth over 3 percent

Thu Nov 21, 2013 11:28am EST

BARCELONA Nov 21 (Reuters) - WPP, the world's largest advertising company, expects 2014 revenue growth, excluding acquisitions, to be above the 2013 level, Chief Executive Martin Sorrell said on Thursday.

Sorrell said clients were still very focused on costs but he expected WPP to benefit from the merger currently being hammered out between rivals Publicis and Omnicom.

He forecast like-for-like revenue growth of above 3 percent in 2014. The company reported growth of 2.4 percent in the first half of 2013, though this accelerated to 5 percent in the third quarter, excluding acquisitions.

"From a client point of view and employee point of view there has been no articulation of the benefit of the deal," Sorrell said at a Morgan Stanley investor conference in Barcelona.

"It certainly has disturbed the client base and it certainly has disturbed the staff. Clients are not going to come out and say 'I'm firing an agency' because they merged. But if you watch the rooms carefully, there are changing patterns of distribution in the business which will benefit us."

Sorrell said earlier this year that WPP was snapping up new work as its two biggest rivals focused on the deal to leapfrog WPP and become the world's largest advertising company by revenue.

Among the major contract wins secured in recent months by WPP were General Electric and GSK, two big-spending advertisers which moved part of their work from agencies at either Omnicom or Publicis following reviews.

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