Publicis Groupe is once again in the headlines over rumors that the French ad holding company is in discussion with Havas-parent Vivendi about a potential merger.
Vivendi calls the reports “unfounded” while Publicis Groupe has declined comment.
This latest rumor follows December chatter that Publicis Groupe leaders held talks with an undisclosed private equity firm. At the time, Campaign cited undisclosed sources that identified CVC, a Luxembourg-based private equity firm, as possibly having an interest in the holding company.
However, Publicis CEO Arthur Sadoun told MediaPost that those rumors were “false.”
There have been reports over the years that members of the family of Publicis Groupe’s late founder, Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet have had an interest in selling out.
At first glance, a deal with Vivendi/Havas could make sense for both parties. Havas has been an underperformer within Vivendi, and the pandemic hasn’t helped. Vivendi, controlled by Bollore Groupe, also owns Universal Music Group, Dailymotion, and Canal+.
Like all the major holding companies Publicis has struggled during the pandemic. The Groupe’s 2020 organic revenue dropped 6.3%.
It’s been speculated that an alliance between the two French ad firms could help both in terms of scale and clout with increased market share.
Publicis is valued at approximately €13 billion ($15 billion). Campaign has speculated that any deal would be valued in the $20 billion-range.