Publicis Groupe is considering a bid for a controlling stake in Cheil Worldwide, according to a report by Bloomberg earlier today.
The reported cited unidentified “people with knowledge of the matter.”
According to the report, Publicis is weighing the possible purchase of a 30% stake in the firm, which would give it control and make it the largest single shareholder in the South Korea-based agency holding company.
Cheil was initially founded as the in-house agency of telecom and electronics giant Samsung, which still owns about 25% of the firm. According to Bloomberg, Cheil now has a market value of $1.9 billion.
Publicis wants to structure a deal, said to be in its early stages, that would keep Cheil as the lead Samsung agency. Bloomberg cited a company financial filing that reported Samsung spent $2.3 billion globally on ads in the first nine months of 2015.
Having Samsung as a client would help Publicis offset some recent big client losses including large pieces of business from Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and L’Oreal.
In recent years, Cheil has increased its presence in North America, where it currently owns three agencies including McKinney, Iris and Barbarian Group. Last summer, Cheil Worldwide promoted McKinney CEO Brad Brinegar to the new position of CEO of Cheil North America, giving him oversight of the group’s NA holdings. Brinegar retained his role at McKinney.
In December, Peter Kim replaced Sophie Kelly as the CEO at Barbarian Group. Kim had been Chief Digital Officer at the agency.
A rep at Publicis Groupe said the company's policy was not to comment on rumors. Cheil and Samsung could not be immediately reached for comment.