European media planning and buying rivals Zenith Optimedia and OMD Germany, respectively owned by Publicis and Omnicom, are joining forces to handle media negotiations in Germany.

Their joint venture, branded Merlion, will begin operations in January and has been set up in response to the country's "unique" media market, which is dominated by Aegis Group's Carat and Grey Global's Mediacom.

Says Zenith Optimedia chief executive Steve King: "It's an unusual solution to a unique market."

He stresses Merlion will be involved only in negotiations, will operate only in Germany and will neither buy nor plan media.

It is now waiting for the go-ahead from Germany's Cartel Office.

Data sourced from AdAge Global; additional content by WARC staff