PUBLICIS ACQUIRES REMAINING STAKE IN ZENITH

$115 Million Sale Ends Cordiant Asset Divestiture

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LONDON (ADAge.com) -- Publicis Groupe today acquired the remaining stake in Zenith Optimedia that it doesn't already own for $115.5 million.

Publicis, which already owned 75% of the global media giant, had a long-term option from the other stakeholder, Cordiant Communications Group, to buy the remaining 25% for $115.5 million in January 2004.

Original deal
The terms of the option looked in

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doubt when WPP and Publicis were bidding against each other in a battle to acquire Cordiant, but WPP's chief executive, Martin Sorrell, sold the stake based on the original deal.

WPP bought Cordiant Communications for $425 million on July 31.

Through Cordiant, WPP still has an interest in Zenith franchises in nine countries, including Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indo-China, Argentina, Greece, Norway, India, Australia and Lebanon, and has trading relationships in another 14 markets where Zenith has franchises.

WPP can potentially make more money if it comes to a deal with Publicis on the outstanding Zenith franchises to bring them into the Zenith Optimedia fold. Executives close to the situation said Publicis was prepared to pay another $15 million to get the franchises, but that was when the French group expected to pay less than $115.5 million for Cordiant's 25% stake.

'Happy to do a deal'
One WPP insider said, "Publicis is still keen to get the whole business, and if the price is right WPP would be happy to do a deal."

The sale of Zenith Optimedia is the last in a series of planned Cordiant disposals. In the last two months, the sales of George Patterson Bates in Australia, German agency Scholz & Friends and public relations company Financial Dynamics have reaped $250 million.

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