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
’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
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.