Publicis-Omnicom’s $35 billion merger terminated

MUMBAI: Paris based Publicis Groupe and New York based Omnicom Group have decided to part ways. The duo through a press statement has jointly announced that they have terminated their proposed merger of equals by mutual agreement, in view of difficulties in completing the transaction within a reasonable timeframe. With this announcement the proposed $35 billion merger has come to an end.


A statement released by Publicis Groupe and Omnicom Group states, “The parties have released each other from all obligations with respect to the proposed transaction, and no termination fees will be payable by either party.”


This decision was unanimously approved by the Management Board and the Supervisory Board of Publicis Groupe and the Board of Directors of Omnicom. In a joint statement, Publicis Groupe chairman and CEO Maurice Lévy and Omnicom Group president and CEO John Wren 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 announcement comes after the meeting of the Supervisory Board of Publicis Groupe, chaired by Madame Elisabeth Badinter which was held on 8 May in order to decide on the action to be taken regarding the proposed merger of equals with Omnicom Group.


The Supervisory Board examined the recommendation of the Management Board, which has unanimously voted to terminate the proposed merger of equals between Publicis Groupe and Omnicom Group.


Lévy in an earlier statement said, “The two groups each have a brilliant track record. This merger was always one of opportunity, not necessity. The teams at Publicis Groupe worked diligently to complete the merger, but, in view of the obstacles encountered, the execution risk continued to increase. The decision to discontinue the process was neither pleasant nor an easy one to make, but it was a necessary one. Prolonging the situation could have led to the diversion of the Group's management from its principle function: to best serve our clients. Our paths diverge today with mutual respect. Publicis Groupe will continue to pursue and accelerate the implementation of its ambitious strategic plan for 2018. I am very confident in our ability to successfully see this through and to achieve all our goals.”


The deal which came in the limelight in July, if worked out, would have created the world’s largest advertising holding company, impacting mostly the Chicago advertising market. The planned merger had called for a 50-50 ownership split of the equity in the new company, Publicis Omnicom Group, with Wren and Levy serving as co-CEOs for 30 months from the closing.


According to an Ad Age report, the proposed Publicis-Omnicom merger would have created a company with a combined market cap of $37 billion and joint 2013 revenues of nearly $24 billion. Combined, the duo could have leapfrogged London-based WPP as the world's largest advertising holding company.


With the merger being called off, WPP Group CEO Martin Sorrell can have a good laugh. Sorrell while talking to CNBC from China said, “I think this deal was driven by ego issues and emotional issues, I think both CEOs wanted to try and dislodge WPP from its number one perch and so it was emotional and egotistical. It was also a case of eyes being bigger than your tummy.”


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