Magazine article ADWEEK

Sizing Up Suitors for IPG

Magazine article ADWEEK

Sizing Up Suitors for IPG

Article excerpt

The lull following Elliott Management becoming Interpublic Group's third-largest shareholder has been filled in recent weeks with swirling rumors about who might buy the No. 4 holding company.

The banter persists even though Elliott, an activist hedge fund run by Paul Singer, has yet to even meet with IPG CEO Michael Roth, three weeks after amassing 28.3 million shares of IPG's stock, according to sources.

What's fueling chatter about potential buyers is that Wall Street sees industry consolidation as inevitable, despite the May collapse of the megamerger of Publicis and Omnicom. Also, even before Elliott took its 6.7 percent stake, IPG was a likely target, given its place in the middle of the ad pack.

"The advantages to consolidation are so substantial that Interpublic is the place that all roads lead to," said Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research Group. "They have a lot of strategic assets, and they're not in a position themselves to be an inquirer."

What follows is a closer look at the pros and cons of IPG's most plausible potential bidders:

PUBLICIS GROUPE

We're No. 2! Combined, IPG and Publicis would generate more than $16 billion in revenue and employ some 106,000 staffers, which still would be smaller than market leader WPP but larger than second place holder Omnicom. While not as big a deal as l'affair Omnicom, it would be a takeover, not a "merger of equals." So, Publicis could put its people in the top jobs without having to negotiate with the other company, as it did, fruitlessly, with Omnicom. …

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