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Omnicom, Publicis Merge to Create World’s Largest Ad Agency

Deal, subject to shareholders' and government approval, would strengthen their hand in negotiating TV ad rates

Advertising titans Omnicom Group and France's Publicis Groupe, announced Sunday that they will merge to create the world's largest ad agency.

The newly combined agency, Publicis Omnicom Group, would have a stock market value of $35.1 billion and 130,000 employees worldwide, the two companies said in a statement announcing the deal.

Paris-based Publicis and Omnicom, based in New York, brought in combined revenue totaling $22.7 billion last year. The alliance will merge agencies including Omnicom’s BBDO Worldwide and Publicis’s Leo Burnett and Saatchi & Saatchi, and should strengthen their hands as they negotiate ad rates for media placements on television, the Internet and in print for their clients.

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Chief executives Maurice Lévy of Publicis and John Wren of Omnicom will act as co-CEOs for the next 30 months, after which Lévy will become non-executive chairman and Wren the CEO. 

Shareholders will each hold about 50 percent of the equity of the agency, which is expected to be listed on the NYSE and Euronext Paris under the symbol OMC.

Omnicom shareholders will get .813 newly-issued shares, with a special dividend of $2 per share. Publicis Groupe shareholders will receive one newly-issued ordinary share of the agency for each Publicis share they already own, with a special dividend of $1.33 per share.

The transaction must be approved by both companies’ shareholders of both companies as well as government regulators. It is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2013 or the first quarter of 2014.