Omnicom Group, the world’s third largest agency holding company, is discreetly buying back two of the sixteen online shops it controversially transferred in 2001 to Seneca Investments, a shell company jointly owned with private equity firm Pegasus Capital LLP.

The move, which did not publicly come to light until last summer [WAMN: 10-Jun-02], created a furore and is said to have triggered the resignation of Omnicom director (and chairman of its audit committee) Robert J Callender.

It also led to high profile criticisms both in the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times, the firing of [then] auditors Arthur Andersen, and a class action lawsuit alleging Omnicom had misrepresented its financial results and misled investors.

Yesterday ( Monday) it leaked out that Omnicom has quietly bought back one of these agencies, Organic - duly restructured and possibly now profitable. And according to insiders, Omnicom is poised to repeat the exercise with another of its former e-shops, Agency.com.

AdAge reports that Omnicom and Organic declined to comment on the matter, while a spokesperson for Agency.com said only that it is [currently] 100% owned by Seneca.

Data sourced from: AdAge.com; additional content by WARC staff