The new media agency holding company formed by Publicis Groupe and Cordiant Communications – housing jointly owned Zenith Media and Publicis’ Optimedia [WAMN: 19-Jul-01] – launches this week under the name Zenith Optimedia Group.

Heading the new operation is John Perriss, chairman of Zenith, with Simon Lloyd moving from the chair of Optimedia to become the project’s deputy chairman.

“We have created a structure for a 21st century media communications services group and put in place the management to run it,” enthused Publicis chief executive Maurice Levy.

Zenith Optimedia is 75%-owned by Publicis, which has the option to buy Cordiant’s 25% at a prearranged price; Cordiant, meanwhile, has the option to sell. Combined billings will stand at £13 billion, making it the world’s fourth largest media group, with clients including Mars, Nestlé and British Airways.

The venture is designed to settle the row over Zenith’s ownership. The UK’s largest media agency became jointly owned by Cordiant Communications and Saatchi & Saatchi – where it started life as the in-house media shop – when the two demerged. Saatchi & Saatchi was subsequently purchased by Publicis, which acquired 50% of Zenith under the deal.

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