Publicis Omnicom merger called off

publicis omnicom logosThe massive proposed merger between holding groups Publicis and Omnicom has been called off.

The deal, which would have created the largest advertising holding group in the world with assets worth more than US$30bn eclipsing WPP, hit the rocks in the US with a slow pace of progress and trouble getting regulatory approval in some countries behind the decision.

Omnicom has this morning released a press statement saying the two groups had agreed to “terminate their agreed merger of equals”. The move follows reports emerging from the US in recent weeks of battles over who would control the group, as well as tax and regulatory issues in several countries, including China.

Maurice Lévy, chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe, and John Wren, president and CEO of Omnicom Group, stated: “The challenges that still remained to be overcome, in addition to the slow pace of progress, created a level of uncertainty detrimental to the interests of both groups and their employees, clients and shareholders. We have thus jointly decided to proceed along our independent paths. We, of course, remain competitors, but maintain a great respect for one another.”

The deal, first announced last July, would have made the merged Publicis and Omnicom media agencies the largest by billings in Australia, bringing together Omnicom’s PHD and OMD with Publicis’ Starcom Mediavest and Zenith Optimedia. However, today’s news means WPP will retain its place as the biggest media buying group in the country.

Local bosses for both groups have this morning told Mumbrella they had been instructed to carry on with their business plans without factoring in the deal, and said it had had very little impact locally in terms of structural or administrative changes.

Creative agencies were set to be less affected by the move, with Omnicom’s assets locally including DDB, Clemenger BBDO and Whybin\TBWA and Publicis’ assets include Publicis Mojo and Leo Burnett.

John Steedman Chairman and CEO of GroupM, declined to drawn on specifics of the collapse of talks, adding: “Frankly in the end (buying) is just one small part of what we or any (media agency) should be about, it’s about having the right people and product in place.

“We still view them as competitors, being number one is great but that’s just a sideline, as far as I’m concerned. “

Alex Hayes and Nic Christensen


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