Unresolved and unspecified ‘difficulties’ could torpedo negotiations between Publicis Groupe and Cordiant Communications over the future of their 50/50 owned joint venture, Zenith Media.

Publicis chair Maurice Levy, interviewed last week on Bloomberg Television, refused to disclose the nature of these ‘difficulties’ but warned that failure to resolve them could lead to a collapse of plans for the French group to acquire control of Zenith and merge it with its own Optimedia network.

The talks revolve around Publicis’ purchase of half Cordiant’s fifty per cent stake in Zenith, leaving the latter as a minority shareholder in the enlarged company.

Levy is playing for big bucks – success would see Zenith soaring to fourth position in the world media-buying league table – and some onlookers see his carefully timed threat as an attempt to call Cordiant’s hand in a prolonged waiting game.

A done deal was originally predicted for December but the talks were extended by mutual agreement until March and still await resolution. Both sides are said to agree on the value of the combined company and its human assets.

News source: CampaignLive (UK)