Court Dismisses Suit Claiming Omnicom Defrauded Internet Investors

A federal judge Tuesday dismissed a contentious class action suit against Omnicom alleging that the world's largest advertising company defrauded investors by improperly accounting for certain Internet assets, including its stakes in digital agencies such as Agency.com and Organic. The judgment ends six years of litigation that had been hanging over Omnicom, whose Internet assets have since become some of its most prized holdings.

The suit, filed by a group of investors in 2002, after Omnicom's stock price fell after it formed Seneca Investments, a holding company created in 2001 by Omnicom and Pegasus Partners, that held its positions in several emerging interactive agencies, including Agency.com, Organic, and Avenue A/Razorfish. Agency.com, and Organic have since been incorporated into Omnicom's holdings, and Avenue A/Razorfish was spun off to aQuantive, which was acquired last year by Microsoft Corp.

The judge's ruling, which comes after years of discovery and legal maneuvering, said the plaintiffs' charges failed to support their central claim - the element of "loss causation" - and that after analyzing the evidence concluded, "there is simply no way for a juror to determine whether the alleged fraud caused any portion of Plaintiffs' loss."

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