Publicis acquires Bcom3 to become $4 billion entity

PARIS, CHICAGO, AND TOKYO: A $3 billion deal in which Publicis Groupe acquires Bcom3 and forges a long-term partnership with Japanese advertising giant Dentsu, will create a $4 billion multicultural marketing behemoth.

PARIS, CHICAGO, AND TOKYO: A $3 billion deal in which Publicis Groupe acquires Bcom3 and forges a long-term partnership with Japanese advertising giant Dentsu, will create a $4 billion multicultural marketing behemoth.

Publicis Groupe, which is buying Bcom3 outright in a stock- and equity-linked securities package, will become the world's fourth-largest communications group behind WPP, Omnicom, and Interpublic Group. Bcom3 will cease to exist as an entity, and its agencies will become business units of Publicis Groupe.

Its headquarters will remain in Paris under the leadership of CEO Maurice Levy. Roger Haupt, currently chairman and CEO of Bcom3, will become the group's president and COO.

Among the giant's clients are Procter & Gamble, Mars, McDonald's, General Motors, and Diageo, serviced by ad agencies including Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett, Publicis, and Bartle Bogle Hegarty.

The biggest PR agency in the mix is Bcom3's only PR brand, MS&L. The agency's 2000 global revenues of $118.8 million mean that Publicis' Rowland Communications ($45.4 million) and Publicis Dialog ($32.6 million) now have a beefy big brother. Of these agencies, MS&L is the only distinct PR network reporting straight to group management - the others report through Publicis' advertising tier.

While the deal has been approved by all three boards, the expected closing date of June 30 means that no plans have been revealed over the future of the component agency brands in any discipline. All remain distinct for now, and reporting lines up to Haupt and Levy will be unchanged after finalization.

Lou Capozzi, CEO of MS&L, said that it was too early to speculate over the possibility of any consolidation of PR operations. But with roughly 80% of its revenues coming from the US, Capozzi was excited about the potential for expansion of MS&L's work in both Europe and Asia.

"The real opportunity for us is to create a multicultural identity,

he said - a philosophy that is the key message point for all agencies involved in the merger. "We have already had some client success in both directions with our relationship with Dentsu, but now we can jump up another notch by being at the table of the fourth-largest holding company in the world."

No one from Publicis Dialog or Rowland was available for comment at press time.

The deal took a vast majority of its audience by surprise, with only The Wall Street Journal having an inkling before the official announcement on Thursday morning.

"It was one of the best-kept secrets ever,

said Capozzi. "Everyone thought I was on vacation."

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