Advertising firm WPP to move HQ back to UK

The biggest advertising agency in the world is to shift its global headquarters from Dublin to Britain.

Advertising giant WPP gave Britain’s chancellor George Osborne a boost by confirming plans to move its headquarters back to the UK.

The FTSE 100 Index company, which is headed by Martin Sorrell, has been based in Dublin since 2008 following corporate tax regime changes introduced by Mr Osborne’s predecessor Alistair Darling.

WPP employs more than 162,000 staff in 3,000 offices in 110 countries. But with the coalition removing the threat of double taxation on overseas earnings by multinational companies from next year, WPP said it will ask its shareholders to vote in December on a proposal to return to the UK.

The move came as WPP announced a 7% rise in pre-tax profits to £358m (€445m) for the six months to Jun 30.

However, it disappointed investors by downgrading its forecast on underlying revenues growth for this year to 3.5% from 4%.

It reported a slowing of revenues in the US and certain markets in western Europe, but said the UK and faster-growing markets such as Latin America were doing well.

WPP owns companies including public relations firm Ogilvy, communications agency RLM Finsbury and market research firm Kantar Worldpanel. Its shares were 4% lower yesterday.

Mr Martin said 2013 was likely to be more challenging, even though GDP forecasts are for stronger growth than in the current year.

There will be no major sporting events in the year and the next US president will have to confront the country’s growing budget deficit, possibly in the face of a deadlocked Congress.

However, he said 2014 looked a better prospect with the World Cup in Brazil and the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, set to boost the profile of the two countries.

Latin America showed the strongest growth in the second quarter of the year, with like-for-like revenues up more than 13%.

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