Interpublic Group sells remaining Facebook stake

NEW YORK: Interpublic Group has sold its remaining holdings in Facebook for $95 million and increased its existing share repurchase program by $100 million.

NEW YORK: Interpublic Group has sold its remaining holdings in Facebook for $95 million and increased its existing share repurchase program by $100 million.

Last August, IPG sold about half of its investment in the social network. It formed the strategic alliance with Facebook in 2006.

"The value of the investment we made in Facebook in 2006 has increased significantly during the last six years," said Michael Roth, chairman and CEO of Interpublic, in a statement. "We decided to sell our remaining shares in Facebook as our investment was no longer strategic in nature.”

Facebook conducted an initial public offering in May, but the price of its shares sunk shortly thereafter due in part to a trading glitch at NASDAQ. By the end of July, the social network's stock price had lost 18% of its value. However,  last week, Facebook's stock rebounded by nearly 13% after more than 800 million shares became available for trading.

IPG also increased its share-repurchase program, which allows the occasional repurchase of IPG common stock, from $300 million to $400 million. Roth said in a statement that the change provides an “opportunity to enhance shareholder value reflecting the confidence” IPG has in the company. The program was put in place in February 2011.

At the end of last month, IPG reported an overall 0.9% organic revenue decrease in the third quarter to $1.67 billion, year-over-year. However, the company's PR firms saw organic revenue growth of 5.9% in the third quarter, compared with Q3 2011.

The holding company owns and operates Weber Shandwick, GolinHarris, DeVries, Current Lifestyle Marketing, and Rogers & Cowan in its Constituency Management Group unit. It also manages Carmichael Lynch Spong and the Axis Agency outside of CMG.

Last week, the holding company appointed former Weber CEO Harris Diamond as chief executive of McCann Worldgroup, replacing Nick Brien. It named Andy Polansky, previously Weber's president, to replace him.

An Interpublic representative could not be immediately reached for comment on the matter.

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