Omnicom/Publicis: Lessons in How to Keep Merger Clearance Traps From Derailing Your Deal

Advertising giants Omnicom Group and Publicis Groupe called off their US$35 billion merger on May 8, 2014, terminating a transaction that would have created the largest advertising company in the world.

Publicis chairman, Maurice Lévy, and Omnicom CEO, John Wren, said in a joint statement, “The challenges that still remained to be overcome, in addition to the slow pace of progress, created a level of uncertainty detrimental to the interests of both groups and their employees, clients and shareholders. We have thus jointly decided to proceed along our independent paths. We, of course, remain competitors, but maintain a great respect for one another.”1 While there were a number of reasons the deal collapsed nine months after it was announced, merger clearance — notably delays in securing antitrust clearance from China’s Ministry of Commerce in China — contributed to the demise.

The collapse is a huge setback for both companies and its employees. Nine months of distraction will have taken a toll, and it will be back to the drawing board as both companies seek other means to expand and improve their services, and realize efficiencies and reduced costs.

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