Publicis Groupe's assertions that is not in acquisition talks with Interpublic (IPG) have failed to convince WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell, who said that he believes a statement issued by the French-based group was more interesting because of what it did not say.
The statement released by Publicis, following a report run by the Financial Times, read: "Publicis Groupe denies having engaged in any discussions with Interpublic Group of Companies and confirms that it has not commissioned any bank to undertake any such discussions."
“I would challenge its veracity,” said Sorrell of the statement, while speaking to The Drum.
“You have to look at the Publicis statement very carefully because it’s more interesting for what it doesn’t say than what it does. I would challenge its veracity because it says in the statement that Publicis has not had any contact with IPG and it doesn’t say when. And are they saying they’ve never had a conversation with IPG? We know that to be untrue. So that is one thing. The second thing, to say that you haven’t commissioned a bank doesn’t mean anything. You might be in conversation with a bank, you might be in discussion with a bank, then you may or may not commission them to enter negotiations.
“I wouldn’t dismiss those rumours as they are trying to dismiss them. They are obviously trying to negate the impact on their shareprice,” he added.
Asked what the impact on the market should an acquisition deal between Publicis and its US-based rival take place, Sorrell responded: “It would just be a continuation of what’s been going on. I suppose the biggest problem would be for Omnicom because it would move them back into third position.”
The Financial Times first published the takeover rumours but then printed a retraction saying: "Apologies, but our usually knowledgeable sources turned out to be lacking on this occasion."
Interpublic Group owns international marketing organisations such as McCann Erickson, Draftfcb and Lowe and Partners, employing around 42,800 and reported revenues of $7bn last year.