France’s top ad man on growth, creativity and the French economy

Maurice Levy claims the President won't help the economy, but unlike Sir Martin Sorrell he has no plans to leave home

France's top advertising boss, Maurice Levy of Publicis Groupe, has given his strongest warning yet that President François Hollande's new socialist government is damaging business.

He also took a thinly veiled swipe at Sir Martin Sorrell, the chief executive of British, but Dublin-based rival WPP, by ruling out the idea of moving his company's tax base overseas because it would be "betraying my country".

Mr Levy told The Independent on Sunday that the Hollande Government's economic plans spelled disaster and claimed the new premier would have to revise his plans to hike taxes.

"The measures they are proposing are not good. Not good for business, not good for France, not good for creating jobs," declared the Publicis Groupe chairman and chief executive, whose company owns top UK ad agencies including Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett and Starcom MediaVest.

There are mounting fears in French corporate circles that President Hollande's move to raise the top rate of personal tax to 75 per cent and impose a 3 per cent tax on dividends will drive talent away to other countries, including Britain.

"They will have to revisit their proposal," insisted Mr Levy, who was speaking at the annual Cannes Lions advertising festival, which ended last night. "If they want to create jobs, they have to make sure we have the right options."

The Publicis boss, one of his country's most senior business leaders, said he was already finding it harder to persuade foreigners to work in France as they "consider it is not the right time to come".

But Mr Levy will not consider moving his company's base to a lower tax domicile such as Ireland and hit out at other firms that made such move.

"I don't believe it is the right thing to do," declared Mr Levy, who last year urged the rich to pay more personal tax because of the economic crisis. "It's a moral standing. I will not feel good morally if I am doing it for tax reasons. I would feel I was betraying my country. If I don't like tax, even if I don't like some decisions, I don't believe it would be right to leave the country for tax reasons."

Sir Martin's WPP quit London for Dublin in 2008 and although the FTSE 100 group has said it intends to return to Britain, it has yet to do so.

Mr Levy declined to comment on Sir Martin's £13m pay package, which was rejected by 60 per cent of WPP shareholders last week.

The Publicis boss has come under fire, notably from Mr Hollande, over his own pay because earlier this year he received a long-term bonus worth ¤16m (£13m), which vested after nine years.

Mr Levy insisted his pay was fair because Publicis has out-performed its rivals and his package was 40 per cent lower than the average of the bosses of WPP, Omnicom and Interpublic. "Not only I am worth it, I've earned it," he said.

However, he pointed out that he voluntarily gave up his ¤900,000 base salary last year and will only receive performance-related pay in future. His decision ensured that Publicis shareholders approved his pay deal.

In contrast, WPP investors rejected a plan to hike Sir Martin's base pay by 30 per cent to £1.3m and his potential bonus to 500 per cent of his salary.

Mr Levy flew into Cannes on Friday from the Middle East after buying two advertising agencies in Israel and the Palestinian Auth ority and announced plans for them to collaborate.

The Publicis boss said he felt it was both a duty to encourage such a "rapprochement".

Suggested Topics
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Rodgers showered praise on Balotelli last week, which led to speculation he could sign the AC Milan front man
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music(who aren't Arctic Monkeys)
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Test Lead (C#, Java, HTML, SQL) Kingston Finance

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...

Access/Teradata Developer, Banking, Bristol £400pd

£375 - £400 per day: Orgtel: Access / Teradata Developer - Banking - Bristol -...

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home