The world's largest agency holding company Omnicom Group on Friday said it would not intervene in the acquisition discussions currently in progress between Aegis Group and Paris-headquartered advertising conglomerate Publicis Groupe [WAMN: 23-Sep-05].

Alone among the big four agency groups, Omnicom operates just one worldwide media planning and buying network - OMD. Two or more such operations are now the norm among holding groups as they allow the discrete (and discreet) servicing of competing clients.

Having renounced interest in Aegis, Omnicom says it intends instead to construct a second global buying and planning network from existing and new resources.

It will do so by combining its PHD media business - which functions in the US, the UK and Canada - with local media operations elsewhere in the world.

Omnicom also plans "additional investment in central resources including research, digital media, emerging media, sponsorship and entertainment".

Thus far the only hat in Aegis' ring is that of Publicis. With Omnicom out of the running, just three other possible contenders remain ...

WPP Group (unlikely say anaysts as it already has "great scope and scale in media buying"); Havas, whose chairman Vincent Bolloré has built a 6% stake in Aegis; and Interpublic Group, which despite its financial fragility might intervene in an effort to replace the massive loss of media billings over the past few months.

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