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Publicis-Omnicom merger collapses

Omnicom chief executive John Wren (L) and Publicis Group Chairman Maurice Levy, 29 July 2013.
Omnicom chief executive John Wren (L) and Publicis Group Chairman Maurice Levy, 29 July 2013. Reuters/Shannon Stapleton/Files

US company Omnicom and French group Publicis called off merger talks to form the world's largest advertising company on Thursday. 

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Last night the boards of both companies announced they had abandoned talks on the deal that started nine months ago.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

In a joint statement they blamed "difficulties in completing the transaction within a reasonable timeframe".

But the merger of equals turned into battles of position and power between CEOs Maurice Levy of Publicis and John Wren of Omnicom, the Wall Street Journal reported last month.

From a legal point of view, one company has to buy the other to merge but neither of the side was ready to be acquired by the other. 

Publicis and Omnicom also disagreed on who would be the financial chief of the new merged company.

The new merged company would have been the world's biggest in advertising with 130,000 employees and more than 20 billion euros revenue.

There has been a flurry of mergers in Europe during the financial crisis:

  • Numericable's purchased Vivendi's SFR mobile phone unit in France in April 2014.
  • Swiss cement group Holcim is expected to merge with French rival Lafarge in mid-2015.
  • French technology services Sopra and Steria merged in April 2014.
  • British mobile phone giant Vodafone's bought Spanish cable operator Ono in March 2014.
  • Equity firm CVC capital took over Spanish olive oil producer Deoleo in April 2014.
  • Schneider's agreed to buy Britain's Invensys in January 2014.
  • Luxury giant LVMH purchased Italian cashmere clothier Loro Piana in December 2013.
  • France's Essilor bought a majority share in US company Transitions Optical in April 2014.

 A bid by US company General Electric for French firm Alstom's energy interests has aroused concern on the part of the French government and an alternative offer by Germany's Siemens is being discussed during a visit by Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg to Berlin on Friday.

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