Maurice Levy, the Publicis chairman, this week questioned the
impartiality of the US courts after his failed attempt to scupper the
True North group’s takeover of the Bozell network.
At a meeting in Chicago last week, True North shareholders approved the
deal by 77 per cent, with Publicis - an 18.4 per cent stakeholder in its
former global partner - voting against.
The result followed a series of courtroom defeats for Levy as judges in
Illinois and Delaware ruled that he would be in breach of an agreement
with True North if he were allowed to obstruct the Bozell deal.
’The outcome of this fight was decided by the courts - and I found it
wasn’t enough just to have good lawyers,’ Levy told Campaign.
Bruce Mason, True North’s chairman, hailed what he claimed was a total
victory and condemned Publicis’s attempt to ’interfere with the voting
process by trying to make a highly conditional and partial offer’.
Levy claimed his position had been twisted and that True North had
gained an unfair advantage in the courtroom battles.
’We were muzzled by the US judicial system and given no opportunity of
explaining the advantages of our offer for True North,’ he
’It was like being in a totalitarian state. Is it because we are French
and they are American? I hope not. I can’t believe that the land of
freedom and free markets can be so protectionist.’
Mason branded Levy’s claims ’very reckless’.
Meanwhile, Levy insisted he had no immediate intention of disposing of
Publicis’s stake in True North. ’If we receive an offer we will consider
it,’ he said. ’But at the moment we are keeping all our options
Live Issue, p12.