Levy slams True North’s dollars 60m writ

The divorce of Publicis and True North has plunged to new depths of bitterness with claims that a dollars 60 million lawsuit by the US group against its French former partner amounts to harassment.

The divorce of Publicis and True North has plunged to new depths of

bitterness with claims that a dollars 60 million lawsuit by the US group

against its French former partner amounts to harassment.



Maurice Levy, the Publicis chairman, this week accused his True North

counterpart, Bruce Mason, who on Wednesday announced his retirement from

the end of March, of pursuing a personal vendetta against him. Levy

claimed relations between the two companies would never improve while he

remained in office.



’Sexual harassment is a very popular topic in the US,’ Levy said. ’Now

True North has invented a new game called judicial harassment.’



His outburst followed an announcement from True North’s Chicago

headquarters that it was seeking the money as compensation for losses

sustained after a restructure at Publicis to enable a divorce of the

companies to take place.



In a filing to the London Court of International Arbitration, True North

claims the 8.8 per cent stake in Publicis with which it has ended up is

an inadequate exchange.



The result is expected to delay any final settlement between Publicis

and True North at least three months beyond Mason’s retirement. ’As long

as Mason is in charge we will continue having these problems,’ Levy

said.



’True North needs someone who carries no historical baggage.’



Mason said: ’It’s time to hand over the reins to someone else, hop on

that Harley that’s sitting in my office and ride off into the sunset.’

He added: ’It’s been one hell of a ride. Though there were some

unanticipated French speed bumps on the way.’



Meanwhile, Levy, already angry at being forced by a US federal judge to

hand over tax information to True North, insisted its claim should be

thrown out.



He said Publicis had complied with all its obligations, having had the

deal examined by the merchant bank, Lazard Freres, the financial

consultant, Ernst & Young, as well as independent experts appointed by

the French courts.



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