Publicis Groupe issued a strongly worded denial of allegations that the Groupe overvalued its organic growth for 2016 and 2017 through an early application of a new International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) 15.
The denial came after an anonymous author sent letters to the Groupe several weeks ago claiming that Publicis illegally rejiggered its revenue without disclosure. Publicis, at the time, thought nothing of this manifesto until it learned the author circulated the same allegation to an unknown number of financial analysts.
"This person has access to very confidential financial information and his or her intention is clearly to hit Publicis’ reputation through wrong assertions," says a Publicis Groupe spokesperson, adding the company is "studying all possible legal options to respond to this attempt at destabilization."
Analysts, for their part, are standing by the company. "I don't have any reason to think this is true," says Pivotal Research Group's Brian Wieser. "There is no credibility when they are anonymous," added Wieser, pointing out that if the allegations had merit, why wouldn’t the author go public?
While companies oftent work within the technical boundaries of legality, Wieser says Publicis is one of the most transparent among the 16 institutions he covers.
Wieser believes it is also important to frame this allegation within context of Publicis' broader role in the financial industry. For better or worse, one of the largest and most important companies in France will always be under an added spotlight.
Ultimately, Wieser says Publicis may have been better off not publicly issuing a press release stating its intent to fight back, drawing attention to what may be just a crank seeking to cause mayhem.