Between the Lines: What can Interpublic offer?

It's not entirely surprising that only 3 per cent of Interpublic Group's shareholders voted to break up the group and sell off its component networks (page 7).

Yes, there have been plenty of question-marks over the real value that IPG brings as a parent group to its constituent parts.

But consider what the individual IPG companies would be worth as standalone businesses. Lowe, for example, is apparently valued at $300 million and FCB at $400 million. Yet would a shrewd investor really want to buy these lumbering networks with such hefty price tags?

Both networks look like they would benefit from some trimming (in terms of office closures) and both have significant business issues (in London, it's possible to forget FCB even continues to exist). They are perfect candidates for a bit of remodelling along micro-network lines.

But the challenge for IPG is to quickly prove exactly what it does deliver for its shareholders - other than upheaval, inaccurate accounting and the inability to leverage its group status to pull in major global account wins like WPP does.

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