Digitas Deal Moves Ahead

BOSTON Publicis Groupe today said more than 94 percent of the outstanding common shares of Digitas have been tendered as the French holding company proceeds with its $1.3 billion acquisition of the relationship marketing firm.

The initial offer period expired Jan. 24, and all shares that were validly tendered and not withdrawn have been accepted for purchase.

Publicis said it would provide a subsequent offering period that expires at midnight Jan. 29. During that period, Digitas stockholders who did not previously tender their stock may do so and receive the same $13.50 per share cash consideration paid during the initial offering period.

“Because of the friendly and cooperative spirit of this transaction, we look forward to a very seamless integration of Digitas,” said Publicis CEO and chairman Maurice Lévy, in a statement. “We welcome [Digitas CEO] David Kenny and the talented teams at Digitas, Modem Media and the Medical Broadcasting Co. into the Publicis family.”

After expiration of the subsequent offering period, Publicis will acquire the remaining outstanding Digitas shares through a merger. Digitas will ultimately operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Publicis.

Publicis in December agreed to acquire Boston-based Digitas for $1.3 billion in cash, a move designed to expand the holding company’s digital marketing capabilities. The $13.50 offer for Digitas’ shares represented a 23.5 percent premium on their closing price.

The deal gives Digitas access to Publicis’ global resources and should help the shop better serve its increasingly international client base. Key Digitas clients include American Express, Delta Air Lines, FedEx and General Motors.

In acquiring Digitas, Publicis gains inroads with GM, a key client for its Leo Burnett and Starcom MediaVest units.

The deal also represents a further consolidation of Web agencies.

Digitas had built a mini-holding company through its acquisition of Modem Media in July 2004. It further expanded by adding MBC as its third agency brand. The company’s acquisition by Publicis will leave aQuantive, owner of Avenue A/Razorfish, as the biggest independent player. Others include AKQA, a San Francisco-based Web agency that works for Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Visa.