It must have been a nervous few weeks for Maurice Levy, the usually unruffled boss of Publicis Groupe, since his interest in buying Brazilian ad agency group Talent became public.
Other potential bidders, chiefly Sir Martin Sorrell’s WPP, would have been alerted but maybe reports that Levy was prepared to pay an eye-watering $200m for the 200-strong company put them off.
Now Publicis has confirmed that it’s bought 49 per cent of Talent (for an undisclosed sum) which gives it effective control of the two agencies in the group, Talent and QG Propaganda. Clients include Santander, Sony and Timberland.
The move follows Publicis’ acquisition of digital agency AG2 so its strategy is pretty clear. Latin America as a whole is showing strong ad growth of around seven per cent and its agencies, particularly in Brazil and Argentina, are scooping up loads of creative awards and now winning international assignments from blue chip clients.
Brazil’s Santo, a quarter owned by WPP, recently won Nestle’s Milkybar in the UK and, a week or so ago, the global Diesel fashion account.
The strength of Santo (and the presence of his big group agencies in Brazil) may have persuaded Sorrell to keep his hand in his pocket this time. He is also reported to be trying to muscle in on Dentsu’s interest in global digital agency AKQA although the AKQA management is said to be less than keen on either option, preferring an IPO.