Omnicom Group Investor Sues Over Publicis Groupe Merger

An Omnicom Group Inc. investor sued to stop the company’s proposed merger with Publicis Groupe SA, a combination that would create the world’s biggest advertising company, saying the terms are unfair to Omnicom shareholders.

Shareholder Paul Ansfield filed the suit in New York State Supreme Court against Omnicom, its board and Publicis over the transaction, which was unveiled on July 29. Pending regulatory and stockholder approvals, the deal is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2014.

“Defendants have attempted to spin the proposed transaction as ‘merger of equals,’ even though Omnicom stockholders are being forced to give up much more for their portion of the combined company than Publicis is giving up for their portion of the combined company,” Ansfield said in a court filing.

If approved, the union of Paris-based Publicis and New York-based Omnicom will overtake market leader WPP Plc, creating an advertising powerhouse with $35 billion in market value and about 41 percent of total spending by the top 10 media agencies in the world, according to data compiled by Advertising Age.

“Omnicom is aware of the complaint that has been filed in New York state court and we believe very strongly that the claims lack any merit whatsoever,” Omnicom said in a statement. “The filing of lawsuits, like this one, shortly after the announcement of a merger or acquisition -- regardless of the merits of the transaction -- is a common occurrence.”

The case is Ansfield v. Wren, 652737/2013, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).

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