Arthur Sadoun
Arthur Sadoun

Publicis Group today rolled out a $550M cost reduction program as CEO Arthur Sadoun predicts the COVID-19 crisis will trigger "the greatest recession in living memory."

The cuts are designed to help the ad/PR combine to "adapt to the new context and be recovery-ready," according to the CEO.

Sadoun failed to provide financial guidance because the crisis is expected to be "unparalleled in terms of magnitude, complexity and probably length."

Publicis halved its dividend and will delay its payment until September so shareholders can be in "solidarity" with the company and its workers.

Sadoun and former CEO Maurice Levy agreed to reduce their compensation 30 percent during the second and third quarters. Other members of the managment team are taking 20 percent hits.

Sadoun is confident that Publicis will survive the pandemic and recession.

"Our experience in managing cost and cash in times of crisis, our country model and our strong balance sheet will help us to stand firm in this storm and prepare ourselves for recovery."

Publicis registered a 2.9 percent drop in organic growth during the first-quarter.