Publicis Backs Away from Grey Global Bid

14 July 2004

Eyebrows hit hairlines in the ad world Tuesday following the announcement by Publicis Groupe that will not bid (as widely expected) for the Grey Global Group -- put up for grabs last month by chairman/ceo and controlling shareholder Ed Meyer.

But, if the decision came as a surprise to adland's citizenry, it was balm to the Paris bourse, where Publicis shares gained 1.3% to end the day at €22.65 ($27.86; £15.03).

Goldman Sachs and Meyer, however, are less likely to be pleased at the loss of the auction's two most likely contenders: Publicis and Omnicom, which declared its lack of interest at the start of this month [WAMN: 02-Jul-04].

Publicis, which shares with Grey a large tranche of Procter & Gamble business, gave a number of reasons for its disinterest, while omitting the most probable. That the Cincinnati colossus (known to be averse to having too many eggs in any one basket) vetoed a Grey-Publicis marriage.

Now all eyes are focused on WPP Group, seen by the cognoscenti as only remaining contender with pockets of sufficient depth.

But the UK-based group -- which handles large slices of Unilever business -- is highly unlikely to be a runner unless the persuasive Sir Martin Sorrell can convince Alan G Lafley and his acolytes that WPP's Chinese walls have the same impregnability as the People's Republic's greatest tourist attraction.

Did anyone mention a dark horse called Dentsu?

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff