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Publicis Acquires French I-Shop Wcube

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NEW YORK Publicis Groupe continues to strengthen its digital offering, acquiring French Internet communications agency Wcube and rebranding the company Publicis Modem France.

The Paris-based holding company said the acquisition constitutes an important expansion of Publicis Modem, which was formed in May, with the combination of digital shop Modem Media and marketing services company Publicis Dialog.

Martin Reidy, CEO of Publicis Modem and Publicis Dialog, said the agency network would look to continue its international expansion. It also has offices in San Francisco, London, New York and Norwalk, Conn., while Publicis Dialog is in 36 countries.

"We already have a large presence in the U.S. and U.K.," he said. "In France, we didn't have a digital offering, and Wcube was an excellent opportunity to establish ourselves on the digital side."

More international expansion is in the works. Reidy said Publicis Modem is readying outposts in Canada and Mexico, utilizing existing Publicis Dialog digital employees and Modem employees from elsewhere. Within six months, it plans to have digital capabilities in all major European markets, he said.

Wcube was established in 1995 as one of France's first interactive agencies, providing creative, technical and analytics services to clients such as Coca-Cola's Sprite, Jean-Pail Gaultier, Lee Jeans and Sara Lee, among others. The agency has 60 employees. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Publicis began ramping up its digital network late last year through the $1.3 billion acquisition of Digitas. It subsequently bought French Web shop Business Interactif, which became part of Digitas, and mobile marketing firm Phonevalley, which is joined to Publicis Groupe Media. When Publicis acquired Digitas, CEO Maurice Lévy said he wanted digital to represent 25 percent of the holding company's revenue by 2010.

The major holding companies have been especially active in the digital space, with other recent activity including WPP Group's purchase this week of Los Angeles-based shop Schematic.

Xavier Gury and Thierry Vandewalle, current Wcube co-presidents, will lead the newly renamed entity. They will report to Philippe Lentschener, CEO of Publicis France, and to Reidy.