New plan for Zenith Media

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Publicis Groupe, Paris, reached a verbal agreement with Cordiant Communications Group, London, to merge their 50% shares in media buyer Zenith Media, but the details of the eventual merger have yet to be negotiated, said Publicis Chairman Maurice Levy. He said Publicis reached an "agreement in principle'' with Cordiant to merge their respective stakes in Zenith, but couldn't specify a timetable for completing the process. Publicis acquired a 50% stake in Zenith as part of its buyout of Saatchi & Saatchi, finalized in mid-September, and has expressed interest in acquiring Cordiant's 50% stake as well. Full ownership would allow Publicis to consolidate Zenith with its existing media arm, Optimedia, creating a new international media buying giant with combined activities topping $16 billion. Cordiant has balked at a cash sale of its Zenith stake, Mr. Levy said. The companies are negotiating the creation of a holding company that would group media buying activities of Publicis' Optimedia and its 50% stake in Zenith with Cordiant's share in Zenith, Mr. Levy said.

Copyright September 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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