PARIS (Reuters) - Communications giant Publicis Groupe (PUBP.PA) will continue to work for Saudi Arabia while “monitoring the situation”, Chairman Maurice Levy said on Tuesday, despite Riyadh’s acknowledgement that dissident Jamal Khashoggi was the victim of a premeditated murder at its Istanbul consulate.
The French group’s Qorvis Communications business has a long-standing contract to handle public relations and government affairs for Saudi Arabia.
Even before the latest Saudi admission, other firms including U.S. lobbyists Glover Park Group, BGR Group and the Harbour Group had severed business ties with the kingdom.
Many others pulled out of an investment conference hosted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, following the killing.
“We are for the time being looking at all the aspects and monitoring the situation very carefully,” the Publicis chairman told Reuters. “As you know, there is currently a situation which is at least confused.”
Levy acknowledged Saudi Arabia’s admission that the murder had been planned - in contradiction with earlier statements.
“But nobody knows who has given the order for the time being. We can imagine, but we have no evidence,” he said.
“For the time being we are looking at all the aspects, and we are not making any assumptions, yet.”
Reporting by Laurence Frost; Editing by Mark Potter