Interpublic CEO Michael Roth (left) has told a Morgan Stanley conference that his company doesn’t see the need for large deals – like Publicis’ $3.7bn takeover of Sapient – and is happy to put aside between $150-200m for acquisitions.
“We do acquisitions, we just don’t do Sapient-sized transactions because frankly I don’t think we need to do those types of transactions,” Roth said. “We’re very competitive, there’s nothing missing in our offerings that puts us at a disadvantage.”
And he’s probably right. IPG does have a pretty decent product line-up these with digital network R/GA the jewel in the crown. Big agencies McCann and FCB are improving and Lowe is strong in Latin countries for some reason. Media is still a problem with the two main Mediabrands agencies Initiative and UM trailing in the wake of WPP’s GroupM, Omnicom’s OMG and Carat.
Roth said he preferred to return ‘spare’ money to shareholders, over $2bn since 2011. “Could we have taken that $2 billion and bought a company? Maybe. But I didn’t think I could get WPP for $2 billion,” he said.
This is the way companies used to be run before the world went M&A crazy.
Speaking of which, there’s been an uncharacteristic silence from WPP and its boss Sir Martin Sorrell recently. Sorrell spent $1.3bn on acquisitions last year, although none of them were exactly adland household names. Is he busy trying to talk down the £2bn price tag of Tesco’s Dunnhumby research business? Or even plotting a bid for IPG?
We surely won’t make it through March without a headline grabber from WPP.