Landsberg charts Bcom3's destiny

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It's been nearly a year since Bcom3 Group postponed plans to go public. But that hasn't stopped the holding company from trying to upgrade its offerings to meet demands that clients could potentially get from rivals.

In early December, Bcom3 named Marc Landsberg, 40, exec VP-corporate strategy and director of its merger and acquisitions group. He had been in a similar role for Bcom3's Leo Burnett Worldwide, Chicago, since 1999.

Mr. Landsberg said Bcom3 isn't ruling out an initial public offering. "It's not bad to be private right now," he said, alluding to the unfavorable market. "The No. 1 priority for us is we've got some big companies and we want to control our own destiny but want access to capital to help make the company grow. An IPO is one option."

So is an increased investment from Japanese agency giant Dentsu, which owns a 20% stake in the holding company. Dentsu itself went public last year. Officials at Dentsu and its investment bank, Nomura Securities, weren't available for comment regarding the possibility of a Dentsu takeover of Bcom3. Now that it appears Bcom3 won't make a move to go public by March 14, Dentsu also will have the opportunity to sell its shares to institutional investors and will have the right to counter-offer merger proposals until March 14, 2005, should Bcom3 not go public by then.

Mr. Landsberg's priorities are consistent with those of other holding companies. "We looked at all public companies and [their potential to] enhance market value or win new business," he said.

Like larger holding companies, Bcom3-parent of Burnett and D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles-wants to fill out its offerings in such areas as public relations, health care and diversified integrated services. It also will expand into new geographies to keep large, multinational clients happy.

"While we have had aggressive M&A activity under way within our brand agencies for many years, it made sense to formalize a process at the Bcom3 level," a company spokeswoman said.

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