In July 2013, Publicis Groupe and Omnicom Group announced that they would merge
to form one gigantic, multi-billion-dollar advertising and PR agency holding company. Now, almost 10 months later, the two companies have scuttled the deal
about the merger’s cancellation cited “difficulties in completing the transaction within a reasonable timeframe” as the reason for the pullback.
Publicis’ statement to Advertising Age
from CEO Maruice Levy was more client-focused. “Prolonging the situation could have led to the diversion of the Group's management from its principle function: to best serve our clients,” he wrote.
The merger plans ran into a few setbacks over the past few months. The companies never turned in a handful of required securities filings, reportedly because the management teams couldn’t agree on an organizational structure and leadership appointees. News of the merger didn’t do much to improve either company’s stock. Omicom’s CEO, John Wren, said tax and regulatory hoops were also proving difficult.
By all indications, the two companies’ PR holdings—Fishburn Hedges, FleishmanHillard, Porter Novelli, Ketchum Pleon, and Portland for Omnicom; MSL Group and Publicis Consultants for Publicis—will continue as they now exist. When the merger was announced, some PR experts suggested those brands could be pared down under a combined Publicis and Omnicom.
According to Advertising Age
, agency heads at firms owned by the two holding companies were unaware of the decision to kill the merger until news went public Thursday night. Clients were taken by surprise, too.
Perhaps a companion to this piece on how to announce a merger
is in order: “How to un-announce a merger.”