Publicis and Omnicom: 'it's over between us'

The mega-merger between the two ad agencies would have made them the biggest in the world. For now, though, WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell remains king of adland.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 09 May 2014

So Publicis and Omnicom have called time on their $35bn mega-merger. Apparently infighting and competition issues have made it too complicated, so the deal that was announced with much pomp and circumstance (and champers at the Arc de Triomphe) in July is off. Fact fans will be interested to know it's one of the largest merger breakdowns in history. Bet executives at both will be sleeping well tonight...

The deal would have knocked Brit firm WPP off its throne as biggest ad agency in the world - but in the event, Omnicom chief exec John Wren reckons its collapse will cost the company between $55m and $60m before taxes. Ouch. The deal was originally supposed to be completed by December last year, though, so you can understand why the two sides called it off.

In a joint statement, Wren and Publicis chief executive Maurice Lévy said that '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, of course, remain competitors, but maintain a great respect for one another.' Aaah.

Although the deal is off, it's still an indication of the way adland is going. As 'King Consolidation' Sorrell, whose company has mainly grown through acquisitions, understands, in order to square up to the likes of Google and Facebook, the digital era's advertising kingpins, companies are going to have to be bigger, stronger and meaner. The cork is back in the bottle for now, but that's not it for mega mergers in the industry forever. Mark our words...

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