NEWS: Publicis takes over US agency despite True North conflict

Publicis is thumbing its nose at True North by acquiring an agency right on the doorstep of its worldwide partner in the US.

Publicis is thumbing its nose at True North by acquiring an agency right

on the doorstep of its worldwide partner in the US.



The French network’s aquisition of a 70 per cent stake in BCP, Canada’s

seventh-largest agency, is a significant move in its go-it-alone bid for

global status and the firmest indication yet that its alliance with True

North is damaged beyond repair.



From its confident beginning in 1989, the relationship with the Foote

Cone Belding holding company has deteriorated into little more than a

marriage of convenience.



The alliance was formally ended in March, although the groups remain

linked through their European operations.



However, Publicis, which fell out with its partner over the aquisition

of agencies in each other’s territory, says it is now free to buy

agencies where and when it wishes, regardless of whether True North

approves.



Maurice Levy, the Publicis chairman, who has made little secret of his

dislike for his True North counterpart, Bruce Mason, this week boasted

that the BCP acquisition gave the network a direct presence throughout

North America.



He said: ‘This structure will serve as a solid launching pad for our

continuing expansion in North America.’



The Canadian move follows the Publicis group’s takeover of Mexico’s

Romero agency, as well as the acquisition of the Norton agency in

Brazil.



A senior Publicis executive said: ‘We intend to become a global

operation. We now have the North American Free Trade Area covered and

you can be sure that there will be more acquisitions.’



Meanwhile, True North has no option but to continue its joint venture

with Publicis, which makes 40 per cent of True North’s annual profits.



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