Merger of Publicis and Omnicom makes biggest ad firm

Maurice Levy
Image caption Maurice Levy will soon co-head the biggest ad firm in the world

France's Publicis and US firm Omnicom have announced a merger to create the world's biggest advertising company worth $35.1bn (£22.8bn).

Omnicom chief executive John Wren and Publicis Groupe boss Maurice Levy are to become joint CEOs.

Each firm's shareholders will hold about 50% of the new Publicis Omnicom Group.

The firm will be listed in Paris and New York and will employ more than 130,000 people.

Among the well-known industry names that are in the combined company are BBDO, Saatchi & Saatchi, and Leo Burnett.

'Dramatic changes'

"The communication and marketing landscape has undergone dramatic changes in recent years including the exponential development of new media giants, the explosion of big data, blurring of the roles of all players and profound changes in consumer behaviour," said Mr Levy.

"John and I have conceived this merger to benefit our clients by bringing together the most comprehensive offering of analogue and digital services."

Publicis Groupe shareholders will receive one share of the new Publicis Omnicom Group for each Publicis share they own and a special dividend of 1 euro per share.

Omnicom shareholders will receive 0.813 shares of Publicis Omnicom Group for each Omnicom share they own, together with a special dividend of $2 per share, plus quarterly dividend payments.

The companies see savings of $500m from the merger, and the deal is expected to be finalised by the end of the March 2014. They say the merger should be "tax-free" and the holding company based in the Netherlands.

The new Publicis Omnicom Group will overtake UK rival WPP in size.