International business risks could adversely affect our operations.
We are a global business. Operations outside the United States represent a significant portion of our revenues, approximately 44% in 2014. These operations are exposed to risks that include local legislation, currency variation, exchange control restrictions and difficult political or economic conditions. We also must comply with applicable U.S., local and other international anti-corruption laws, which can be complex and stringent, in all jurisdictions where we operate. In developing countries or regions, we may face further risks, such as slower receipt of payments, nationalization, social and economic instability, currency repatriation restrictions and undeveloped or inconsistently enforced commercial laws. These risks may limit our ability to grow our business and effectively manage our operations in those countries.
In addition, because a significant portion of our business is denominated in currencies other than the U.S. Dollar, such as the Argentine Peso, Australian Dollar, Brazilian Real, British Pound Sterling, Canadian Dollar, Chilean Peso, Euro, Indian Rupee, Japanese Yen and South African Rand, fluctuations in exchange rates between the U.S. Dollar and such currencies may materially affect our financial results. Concerns persist in Europe in particular over the debt burdens of certain countries that use the Euro as their currency and the overall stability of the Euro. Possible consequences, such as the re-introduction of individual currencies in countries currently employing the Euro, the dissolution of the Euro as a common currency or market perceptions and uncertainties about the possibility and impact of such events, could adversely affect the value of our Euro-denominated assets and results of operations.
If our clients experience financial distress, their weakened financial position could negatively affect our own financial position and results.
We have a large and diverse client base, and at any given time, one or more of our clients may experience financial difficulty, file for bankruptcy protection or go out of business. Unfavorable economic and financial conditions could result in an increase in client financial difficulties that affect us. The direct impact on us could include reduced revenues and write-offs of accounts receivable and expenditures billable to clients, and if these effects were severe, the indirect impact could include impairments of intangible assets, credit facility covenant violations and reduced liquidity. For a description of our client base, see “Clients” in Item 1, Business.
We are subject to industry regulations and other legal or reputational risks that could restrict our activities or negatively impact our performance or financial condition.
Our industry is subject to government regulation and other governmental action, both domestic and foreign. Advertisers and consumer groups may challenge advertising through legislation, regulation, judicial actions or otherwise, for example on the grounds that the advertising is false and deceptive or injurious to public welfare. Our business is also subject to specific rules, prohibitions, media restrictions, labeling disclosures and warning requirements applicable to advertising for certain products. Existing and proposed laws and regulations, in particular in the European Union and the United States, concerning user privacy, use of personal information and on-line tracking technologies could affect the efficacy and profitability of internet-based and digital marketing. Legislators, agencies and other governmental units may also continue to initiate proposals to ban the advertising of specific products, such as alcohol or tobacco, and to impose taxes on or deny deductions for advertising, which, if successful, may hinder our ability to accomplish our clients’ goals and have an adverse effect on advertising expenditures and, consequently, on our revenues. Furthermore, we could suffer reputational risk as a result of governmental or legal action or from undertaking work that may be challenged by consumer groups or considered controversial.
We face risks associated with our acquisitions and other investments.
We regularly undertake acquisitions and other investments that we believe will enhance our service offerings to our clients. These transactions can involve significant challenges and risks, including that the transaction does not advance our business strategy or fails to produce a satisfactory return on our investment. While our evaluation of any potential acquisition includes business, legal and financial due diligence with the goal of identifying and evaluating the material risks involved, we may be unsuccessful in ascertaining or evaluating all such risks. Though we typically structure our acquisitions to provide for future contingent purchase payments that are based on the future performance of the acquired entity, our forecasts of the investment’s future performance also factor into the initial consideration. When actual financial results differ, our returns on the investment could be adversely affected.
We may also experience difficulty integrating new employees, businesses, assets or systems into our organization, including with respect to our internal policies and required controls. We may face reputational and legal risks in situations where we have a significant minority investment but limited control over the investment's operations. Furthermore, it may take longer than anticipated to realize the expected benefits from these transactions, or those benefits may ultimately be smaller than anticipated or may not be realized at all. Talent is among our most valuable assets, and we also may not realize the intended benefits of a transaction if we fail to retain targeted personnel. Acquisition and integration activity may also divert management’s attention and other corporate resources from other business needs. If we fail to realize the intended advantages of any given investment or