Publicis Groupe CEO Arthur Sadoun (main photo) has scotched industry speculation that the holding company was looking to merge with rival Havas, saying there was “no truth” in the rumours.
In late March, French news service BFMTV reported that Havas’ parent company, Vivendi, had been in “discussions” about a possible merger with the Paris-headquartered Publicis.
On Friday, Publicis posted better than expected Q1 numbers showing organic growth was up 2.8 per cent year on year.
In an interview with MediaPost following the release of the numbers, Sadoun said of the Vivendi rumour: “The only thing we have in common is that we are both based in France” before adding there was “no truth” in the reports.
Not that Publicis would come cheap either, with insiders valuing the world’s third biggest holding company at a cool $US20 billion ($A26 billion).
If any potential Publicis takeover were to happen, it would also require sign-off from Elisabeth Badinter, the daughter of company founder Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet. Badinter and her family are top shareholders in Publicis Groupe.
Not that Publicis is the only one of the holding companies under the takeover spotlight.
Reports in UK media has suggested that WPP, Omnicom and IPG could also be of interest to private equity money – estimated at $US1.5 trillion ($A1.94 trillion) – should their share price continue to take a kicking from the pandemic and decreased client spends.
There’s also been the ongoing gossip that WPP would be broken up and sold off; however, much of that talk has come from its former boss, the often recalcitrant, Sir Martin Sorrell.
Speaking with MediaPost, Sadoun said he expected all the holding companies to increase their bottom lines in Q2, however, he predicted Publicis would surpass its rivals.
“The market was predicting us to reach -.02 per cent but we delivered +2.8 per cent. The real question is how much value we have recovered in 2021 from 2020. For the moment, we thought it would take two years, but it will be interesting to look to see how competitors recover,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sadoun has confirmed that Publicis staff would not have to be vaccinated if they want to return to the office.
“It is impossible to require as everyone has to make their own individual choice and we have to respect that,” Sadoun told MediaPost.
It was hard to have “general rules” considering Publicis’ global workforce, he said.
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