WPP will become the most valuable advertising, marketing and PR
holding company in the world if its expected deal with Young and Rubicam
goes through. The merger, following talks between WPP chief executive
Martin Sorrell and Y&R opposite number Tom Bell, would create a company
with a market value of almost pounds 10 billion.
PR Week’s Top 150 listing shows that a merger - more likely a takeover
of Y&R by WPP - would have given the new company fees last year of
pounds 65 million. This lifts WPP to the top spot from second place
behind the pounds 59 million fee-earning Omnicom PR companies. WPP has
already stepped up one place, from third in 1998, having raked in larger
fees than Interpublic companies last year. The deal would also bring
Burson-Marsteller under the WPP banner alongside the company’s existing
PR interests, including Hill and Knowlton, Ogilvy and a strategic stake
in Chime Communications. Y&R also owns Cohn and Wolfe.
Martin Sorrell refused to comment on takeover speculation, but industry
insiders are predicting a deal may be announced within two weeks.
As PR Week went to press, WPP was publishing its first quarter results,
reporting a 50 per cent increase in PR and public affairs revenues on
the same period last year.