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.
The terms of the option looked in
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.