Days two and three of wall-to-wall coverage of the merger of Publicis Groupe and Omnicom Group have focused as much on the larger-than-life personalities who engineered the deal as the dollars and cents of it.
The Lévy-Wren courtship
Fortune scored a number of interesting details about the genesis of the merger, including Publicis CEO Maurice Lévy climbing six flights of stairs to keep a meeting with Omnicom counterpart John Wren under wraps at the Cannes Lions festival in June.
According to Fortune, when Wren and Lévy met on the rooftop of Publicis' Paris office in January, the Omnicom CEO looked around and said, “This is priceless.” To which, Levy replied, “Not so much. It can be yours.”
After two and a half years of both men serving as co-CEO, it will be.
Lévy's long road to the top spot
The New York Times profile of the French business magnate calls the deal “a career capstone for Mr. Lévy,” noting that his “diplomatic skills have elevated him into the inner circle of business advisers to a succession of French presidents.”
It also describes his – and his company's – rise to becoming an international marketing services powerhouse. The piece quotes former Publicis executive Richard Pinder as saying, “It's ingrained in Maurice's whole psyche that if you were a Jewish immigrant in France in the 1940s and 1950s, you had to fight like hell.”
Not to be outdone…
Though not a part of Sunday's blockbuster deal, WPP chief executive Martin Sorrell is still at the center of the Publicis-Omnicom merger story. The Financial Times surmised that he could buy rival holding companies Interpublic Group or Havas or throw a fake to the advertising industry and acquire a data services or consumer-insight firm instead. Or, Sorrell could grab clients and personnel dissatisfied by the merger as part of an organic growth strategy.
The British businessman told CNN that WPP “will spend £300 million to £400 million annually on infill and bolt-on acquisitions,” and it can also keep an eye on the Publicis-Omnicom marriage from afar.
Also in the news:
Publicis-Omnicom merger could be the start of a wave of consolidations: Wall Street Journal.
Lévy jokes: “If Sir Martin had nothing bad to say then in that case, I'd start thinking, “What's wrong with our organization:” Bloomberg.
Merger could allow insurers, banks to single out less profitable consumers: Huffington Post.
Advertising giants team up to restore balance between digital, marketing worlds: Wall Street Journal.
Last but not least, The Onion: merger “bringing together the largest collection of people with now discernible skills whatsoever.”