Spotlight On... Maurice Levy, Publicis Groupe, chairman and chief executive

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The Independent Online

Why is silver-haired Monsieur Levy in the news?

He runs France's biggest advertising group, which owns top global agencies Saatchi & Saatchi and Leo Burnett, and it has just reported record annual profits of €860m (£722m).

Record profits? But isn't there a crisis in the eurozone?

Yes, Europe is tough. Revenues fell 2.5 per cent there in the last three months of 2011. But digital and emerging markets are growing fast. Across the group, turnover was up 5.7 per cent last year.

So bonuses all round?

Not quite. Publicis has imposed a "selective" recruitment freeze after a big hiring spree a year ago, when it boosted its digital teams by giving freelancers permanent jobs.

So digital is all the rage. But Levy doesn't exactly look the modern, whizzy type

Appearances can be deceptive. He has made new media a priority and Publicis, the world's third-biggest advertising group behind WPP and Omnicom, is widely thought to be leading the pack. Digital is responsible for nearly 31 per cent of the business.

Levy looks like he could be near retirement

He is 70 next week, but talk of him stepping down is premature. He may have been at Publicis since 1971 and boss since 1987 but every time rumours surface that he is off, he signs a new contract.

So he's a workaholic?

M. Levy is far too smooth and French to admit that. But he tells a story about how his wife got so fed up with him using his BlackBerry on holiday that she threw it in the swimming pool. Happily, his BlackBerry still worked after the soaking.