SC Johnson tries to prevent Levy bid in True North takeover

One of True North’s biggest global clients is attempting to scare off the Publicis chairman, Maurice Levy, by threatening to pull out more than dollars 400 million of business should he press ahead with a hostile takeover bid.

One of True North’s biggest global clients is attempting to scare

off the Publicis chairman, Maurice Levy, by threatening to pull out more

than dollars 400 million of business should he press ahead with a

hostile takeover bid.



S. C. Johnson, the owner of cleaning brands such as Mr Muscle, Glade and

Brillo, said it would consider splitting with the FCB network, a True

North subsidiary, if Levy gains control.



In a letter to Levy, William Perez, the S. C. Johnson chief executive,

warned his company had ’no interest in seeing any form of reversal’ of

the divorce between Publicis and its former global partner.



The letter’s contents were disclosed as Publicis, True North’s biggest

shareholder, filed a lawsuit in Chicago claiming damages and urging the

court to intervene to prevent True North’s takeover of Bozell, claiming

the deal was not in the interests of True North shareholders.



Publicis executives were this week dismissing the S. C. Johnson

threat.



’It changes nothing because it says nothing about the Bozell situation,’

one said.



Meanwhile, speculation is mounting that up to 300 jobs may go if the

Bozell deal, to be voted on at a special meeting on 30 December, goes

ahead. In the prospectus-proxy statement posted to shareholders this

week, True North failed to specify the number of job losses but forecast

a possible one-time pre-tax charge of up to dollars 120 million,

including up to dollars 55 million for severance and related costs.



There is also speculation within True North that Levy’s actions are part

of a Publicis power game. Insiders suspect he wishes to accumulate

enough Publicis shares to replace the Bleustein-Blanchet family at the

heart of the group.



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