Publicis joins WPP courtship of Y&R

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Young & Rubicam's stock closed April 27 at 52-7/8, up 3 points or 6.02%, following reports that Paris-based Publicis has joined WPP Group, London, in the courtship of the New York-based agency company. However, it has been speculated that Publicis' recent buying spree would limit its access to cash, and a stock deal with the French company--which doesn't trade in the U.S.--wouldn't be as attractive to Y&R. Publicis has been vocal about its intent to infiltrate the U.S. ad scene and has purchased Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, and Hal Riney & Partners, San Francisco, in recent years. WPP is said to have offered $65 a share for Y&R at one time, but the deal fell through. However, Y&R is still in serious negotiations with WPP, say executives close to the situation. WPP confirmed on April 27 what Advertising Age first revealed more than two weeks ago--it's in talks with Y&R. But WPP provided no details on whether it's actually trying to acquire Y&R, only saying in its statement: "Following recent press comment the board of WPP confirms that it is in discussions with Young & Rubicam Inc. that may or may not lead to an agreement between the two companies." Y&R and Publicis wouldn't comment on their activities. A WPP/Y&R coupling would combine the world's No. 3 and No. 7 ad organizations, according to Ad Age's latest Agency Report, published April 24. Publicis is No. 10 on that list.

Copyright April 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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