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Notes 16-21

21. Principal risks and uncertainties

The directors have considered the principal risks and uncertainties affecting the Group for the second half of 2011 and determined that these are unchanged from those presented in the Group’s published Annual Report and Accounts and Form 20-F for the year ended 31 December 2010. The Annual Report and Accounts and Form 20-F are published in the Investor Relations section of the Group website ( and are available from the Group on request.

WPP plc has specific policies in place to ensure that risks are properly evaluated and managed at the appropriate level within the business. These are presented in the published 2010 Annual Report and Accounts. Pages 5 and 6 of the Group’s Form 20-F for the year ended 31 December 2010 contain a detailed explanation of the risk factors identified by the Group and these are summarised below:


The Group competes for clients in a highly competitive industry and client loss may reduce market share and decrease profits.

The Group receives a significant portion of its revenues from a limited number of large clients and the loss of these clients could adversely impact the Group’s prospects, business, financial condition and results of operations.

Corporate Responsibility

The social and environmental impact of our work for clients.

Damage to WPP’s reputation from undertaking controversial client work.

Marketing ethics, compliance with marketing standards, and increasing transparency about our marketing practices.

Compliance with privacy and data protection regulations.

Employment, including diversity and equal opportunities, business ethics, employee development, remuneration, communication and health and safety.

Climate change, including the emissions from energy used in our offices and during business travel.


The Group’s businesses are subject to economic and political cycles. Many of the economies in which the Group operates have significant economic challenges.


Currency exchange rate fluctuations could adversely impact the Group’s consolidated results.

Changes to the Group’s debt issue ratings by the rating agencies Moody’s Investor Services and Standard and Poor’s Rating Service may affect the Group’s access to debt capital.

The Group may be unable to collect balances due from any client that files for bankruptcy or becomes insolvent.

Mergers & Acquisitions

The Group may be unsuccessful in evaluating material risks involved in completed and future acquisitions and may be unsuccessful in integrating any acquired operations with its existing businesses.

Goodwill and other acquired intangible assets recorded on the Group’s balance sheet with respect to acquired companies may become impaired.


The Group operates in 107 countries and is exposed to the risks of doing business internationally.


The Group’s performance could be adversely affected if it were unable to attract and retain key talent or had inadequate talent management and succession planning for key management roles.


The Group may be subject to regulations affecting its activities.

The Group may be exposed to liabilities from allegations that certain of its clients’ advertising claims may be false or misleading or that its clients’ products may be defective.

The Group operates in 107 countries and is subject to increased anti-corruption legislation and enforcement not only in the US and UK.

Civil liabilities or judgments against the Company or its directors or officers based on U.S. federal or state securities laws may not be enforceable in the U.S. or in England and Wales or in Jersey.