Publicis Omnicom merger called off

By AdNews | 9 May 2014
Maurice Levy of Publicis and John Wren of Omnicom

The $35 billion proposed mega-merger between Omnicom and Publicis has been called off.

The deal, announced in July last year, would have created the world's largest advertising holding company, eclipsing WPP. At the time of the announcement, the naysayers, led chiefly by WPP's Sir Martin Sorrell, said it would never work.

The deal had been looking increasingly shaky the longer the legal wrangling dragged on. Reports emerged in recent weeks of disagreements over who would take key positions such as chief financial officer.

Locally, heads of agencies that would have been affected by the merger had been given no indication of any of the implications, suggesting the move had struggled to get off the drawing board outside of head office.

Sources said the merger would have likely seen a consolidation of many of the two groups' creative agency brands globally, and its scale in media would have seen it out-GroupM GroupM. All now live to die another day.

Last year, TrinityP3's Darren Woolley noted that WPP's Sorrell would be "the person most pissed off about this and doing his best to undermine it". It would appear Sir Martin has had the last laugh.

Omnicom Group's statement:

PUBLICIS AND OMNICOM AGREE TO TERMINATE PROPOSED MERGER OF EQUALS

Paris and New York, May 8, 2014 – Publicis Groupe S.A. (Euronext Paris: PUB) and Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) today 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. 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, Maurice Lévy, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Publicis Groupe, and John Wren, President and Chief Executive Officer 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."

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