Publicis merges with Omnicom to become No.1

Written by Reuters | Paris | Updated: Jul 29 2013, 17:06pm hrs
Advertising companies Publicis and Omnicom unveiled plans on Sunday to merge to create the world's biggest advertising group, worth $35.1 billion. Publicis and Omnicom shareholders will each hold approximately 50% of the new company's equity in the deal, which the companies presented as a "merger of equals".

The merger will create a firm with a market value of more than $30 billion, surpassing London-based industry leader WPP. A combined firm will allow for more pricing power, though the decrease in competition could present regulatory hurdles in the US and Europe. Client conflicts also could arise.

Publicis said the transaction was expected to create "significant value for shareholders", with expected synergies of $500 million. The merged group would keep its head offices in Paris and New York, it said. Publicis said the deal, which had been unanimously approved by the boards of both companies, was expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2013 or the first quarter of 2014.

"(Omnicom head John Wren) and I have conceived this merger to benefit our clients by bringing together the most comprehensive offering of analog and digital services," Publicis Chief Executive Maurice Levy said in a statement.

Wren and Levy will be joint CEOs for an initial integration and development period of 30 months, after which Levy will become non-executive chairman and Wren sole CEO, Publicis said.

Publicis shareholders will receive one newly-issued ordinary share of Publicis Omnicom Group for each Publicis share they own, plus a special dividend of 1.00 euro per share.

Omnicom shareholders will receive 0.813 newly issued ordinary shares of Publicis Omnicom Group for each Omnicom share they own, together with a special dividend of $2.00 per share. They will also receive up to two regular quarterly dividends of $0.40 per share. The companies said the transaction would be a cross-border merger of equals under Netherlands-based holding company Publicis Omnicom Group.

Omnicom Group, based in New York, owns BBDO Worldwide, DDB Worldwide Communications Group and TBWA Worldwide, among other agencies. Paris-based Publicis runs its namesake agency as well as Leo Burnett Worldwide, Saatchi & Saatchi and Digitas.