Publicis CEO Arthur Sadoun (below) says there is “no truth” in reports that it is discussing a merger with Vivendi (or anyone else presumably.) He told MediaPost that the only thing Publicis and Vivendi-owned Havas have in common is that they’re both “based in France.”
Sadoun’s comments came after Publicis beat analyst estimates with 2.8% organic growth in the first quarter of 2021, most regions performing creditably apart from from the UK. Sadoun blamed the UK on client cutbacks at its data businesses but said its creative agencies had performed well. He said it was still unclear how the whole year would unfold.
Sadoun’s denials of a possible deal seem rather firmer now than they were when French media reported interest from Vivendi. Publicis is currently valued at nearly €14bn.
Publicis’ 2.8% organic growth in Q1 2021 sets down a pretty stiff marker for rivals WPP, Interpublic, Omnicom and, indeed, Havas. At some stage improving performance should have an effect on their respective share prices which means that any of them (apart from Vivendi-owned Havas) could become targets for the vast wall of private equity money (an estimated $1.5 trillion) currently looking for a destination.