UPDATED WITH NEW INFORMATION: Publicis Groupe has called a press conference with journalists for 8AM EST on Sunday morning. After days of speculation about a merger with Omnicom Group -- which was widely seen by analysts and agency execs as unlikely to materialize -- it's now believed that Publicis CEO Maurice Levy will announce a proposed merger to create the largest ad holding company in the business.
Bloomberg News is reporting that Publicis Groupe and Omnicom Group are "in late-stage talks about a combination." The report, which came after today's market close, cites a single source defined as "a person familiar with the negotiations." Neither company could be reached for comment.
This is not the first time such speculation has arisen -- talk of Publicis merging with a rival crops up on a yearly basis. Last summer's rumor was that the agency would combine with Interpublic Group of Cos.
Brian Wieser, analyst with Pivotal Research Group, is skeptical of an Omnicom-Publicis combination. "Our view is that such a transaction is unlikely to occur," he said. "However, we would consider a combination of the entities as highly favorable for the companies and the industry if they, in fact, decided to merge and regulatory authorities approved a deal."
Adland's biggest behemoth
A pairing of the two would create adland's biggest behemoth. A merger of Omnicom Group (market cap: $16.8 billion) and Publicis Groupe ($15.6 billion) historically would be the biggest agency deal, eclipsing Dentsu Inc.'s $4.9 billion acquisition of Aegis Group in March 2013 and WPP's $4.7 billion purchase of Young & Rubicam in 2000.