Japanese advertising giant Dentsu is reportedly working out the details of an initial public offering, which it intends to complete by the end of the year.

Dentsu is believed to be considering an offer of 15%–20% of its shares to the public, a sale that could raise between $1 billion and $2bn. The network wants a listing on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s first section.

With billings last year of 1.6 trillion yen ($13.81bn), Dentsu is one of the world’s biggest networks. However, 95% of these billings come from within Japan. The money raised by the IPO is expected to fund worldwide growth, so that Dentsu can compete with rapidly expanding global rivals such as WPP and Omnicom.

The move could spark a wave of agency IPOs – Japan’s second biggest agency Hakuhodo is already planning an offering of its own in 2003.

Dentsu refused to comment on the details of the flotation, confirming only that, if all goes according to plan, it will take place this year. However, with the Nikkei 225, Japan’s major stock index, at a two-year low, it remains to be seen whether foreign investors will have enough confidence to buy into the network.

News source: Wall Street Journal