Interpublic Puts Its Exposure to GM Bankruptcy at $50 Million

Holding Company Cautions That Could Increase If Automaker's Overseas Subsidiaries Take Similar Course

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) --Interpublic Group of Cos. believes its maximum exposure to General Motors Corp.'s bankruptcy proceedings is $50 million, the agency holding company said today in a brief filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. But the company also said, "GM's subsidiaries outside the United States have not commenced bankruptcy or similar proceedings, and if they did so the company's potential exposure could increase."

In April, Interpublic said its exposure to a GM bankruptcy was in the neighborhood of $150 million. In the U.S., Interpublic's Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich., handles Chevrolet; McCann Erickson, Birmingham, Mich., has GM's corporate and Saab accounts; and sibling Deutsch, Los Angeles, has Saturn, which is being sold to race-car-driver-turned-entrepreneur Roger Penske's Penske Automotive Group. McCann also handles a broad swath of GM business overseas, including major markets such as China and Europe.

GM's bankruptcy filing June 1 lists Interpublic and McCann among its largest 50 unsecured creditors, with the two owed a total of $20.5 million.

Interpublic generated about 5% of its 2008 revenue, or about $348 million, from GM, its largest client.

Publicis' exposure
Yesterday Publicis Groupe announced that its maximum financial exposure in client GM's bankruptcy filing is 55 million euros, or about $78 million.

The French holding company's Starcom MediaVest Group is listed in the automaker's Chapter 11 filing as its sixth-largest unsecured creditor, owed $121 million. Publicis itself is 18th on the list, owed $25 million. Publicis said GM has asked the bankruptcy court to designate the holding company an "essential vendor," which allows for work and payments to continue through the Chapter 11 process.

Publicis' Leo Burnett USA, Troy, Mich., handles GM's Buick-Pontiac-GMC accounts, but the Pontiac brand is being eliminated. Digitas, Boston, does the bulk of GM's digital work.