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Publicis Buys Digital Agency Sapient For $3.7 Billion

The world’s third largest advertising network, Publicis, has acquired US Digital Advertising Agency Sapient in a deal intended to boost flagging growth at the French group.

The announcement comes just a few days before Publicis Groupe is due to present to investors its plans for boosting its growth from digital advertising, which is becoming increasingly dominated by data and technology.

Publicis Groupe is back on track with its digital agency acquisitions only months after its failed merger with rival Omnicom, and it’s going big. Sapient, which also owns SapientNitro, a leading digital advertising agency, would push Publicis further into online activities. Publicis is shifting the majority of its digital activities to the newly created Publicis.Sapient, including DigitasLBI, Razorfish and Rosetta.

Sapient stockholders will receive $25 in cash for each share, the companies said today, a 44 percent premium to Sapient’s Oct. 31 close in New York. Publicis is paying 19.2 times Sapient’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

publicis sapient

Boston-based Sapient, founded in 1990, advises brands, energy and commodity traders and governments on technology and online strategies. Sapient has an existing consulting practice through its Global Markets division, which serves industries such as banking, energy and finance. The goal is to extend that practice to other categories and provide advisory services around marketing technology and strategy.

Publicis CEO Maurice Levy said,

The new world is much more complicated than the former world. I believe the addition of Sapient will help us move forward at a much higher speed than we do today.

The transaction will push the French company’s digital revenue to more than 50% of its overall figure as soon as 2015. The deal creates a new “digital platform” called Publicis.Sapient. Under its new name of Publicis.Sapient, the company will continue to be led by Alan Herrick, who has been Sapient’s CEO since October 2006, and who now joins senior management at Publicis Groupe.

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