Publicis Groupe To Acquire LBi

Publicis Groupe has conditionally agreed to buy independent digital shop LBi for $540 million, the companies have confirmed.  Publicis has agreed to pay LBi shareholders close to a 40% premium over the price of LBi's publicly traded shares.

LBi, based in Amsterdam confirmed talking to unnamed parties this summer about a potential sale. However it was Omnicom that surfaced in press reports as the likely buyer not Publicis.

LBi clients include Lloyds TSB, Volvo, Johnson & Johnson, Coca Cola, Carlsberg and Ikea.

The proposed purchase extends the latest round of agency consolidation as the holding companies continue to bulk up their digital offerings. Earlier this year WPP purchased digital agency AKQA.

“The acquisition of LBi is another step forward in further strengthening our digital operations” said Maurice Lévy, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Publicis Groupe.  “Within the globaladvertising landscape, LBi is a well known partner for extraordinary digital customer experiences,based on a blend of creativity and expertise in technology, strategy and social media. Theintegration of LBi will further enhance our capabilities and, through a wider pool of resources andtalent, help deliver  innovative and best-in-class services to our clients, which is our relentlessfocus. Furthermore, this acquisition has a positive impact on our  EPS in the first year postacquisition.”

“We are thrilled at the prospect of joining Publicis Groupe and are convinced this transaction notonly provides highly attractive value to our shareholders, but equally to our clients, staff andpartners,” said Luke Taylor, Chief Executive Officer of LBi.

The agreement is subject to approval by 90% of oustanding shareholders, the company said. 

Also, the agreement can be terminated if LBi gets a better offer before closing, in which case Publicis would have a chance to match.

The companies said the deal is subject to anti-trust approval.

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