Would Omnicom want to buy some WPP assets? John Wren weighs in

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Omnicom CEO John Wren in Cannes in 2016.
Omnicom CEO John Wren in Cannes in 2016. Credit: Patrick Denton

During Omnicom Group's first quarter earnings call Tuesday, CEO John Wren weighed in on the possibility of acquiring WPP assets should they come up for sale — and spoke about his former competitor Martin Sorrell.

"In many ways I have a great deal of respect for Martin," Wren said, responding to a question from a Morgan Stanley analyst on whether Omnicom would be interested in WPP assets if they came up for sale. Wren remarked he had competed against Sorrell for the last 25 years.

Sorrell stepped down following an internal investigation into misconduct, ending a long career at the world's largest agency holding company.

In the wake of Sorrell's departure, analysts have speculated that WPP might begin to sell off some of its many assets.

Wren said he wasn't "much help when it comes to answering that question directly," about whether some WPP properties should shake loose, but he did say that the companies analysts are speculating could be sold don't really interest Omnicom.

"I know that [Sorrell] was in the process of evaluating his own portfolio," Wren said. "I don't know what conclusion the new leadership will reach." In terms of Kantar and other names "being bantered about, that's not a key focus for our acquisition," he said.

The agency holding company reported that its net income for the first quarter of 2018 was $264.1 million compared with $241.8 million in the first quarter of 2017. The company also saw a 1.2 percent increase in worldwide revenue to $3.63 billion from $3.59 billion in the first quarter of 2017, and a 2.4 percent increase in organic revenue.

In an investor's note, Pivotal Research senior analyst Brian Wieser said Omnicom's first-quarter earnings were "generally satisfactory vs. expectations, although not meaningfully so."

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