Publicis/Digitas to Acquire French Digital Agency

Publicis is laying the groundwork for a full buyout of Business Interactif, a huge French digital communications group. If the deal goes through, the company will be folded into Digitas.

The French holding company struck a deal to buy 49 percent of Business Interactif from the founders, and it hopes to pick up the remaining 51 percent through a public offer to the company’s existing shareholders. The combined dollar figure attached to the proposed buyout is approximately $374 million, whereas the value of the agreement already reached with the founders is $182 million.

The plan is to give Business Interactif the new name Digitas France. Its founders, Emmanuel Henrion and Francois de la Villardiere, have committed to stick around for at least three years and will head up Digitas France and serve on the Digitas Global Board. They’ll also control the European arm of Prodigious, Digitas’s new production studio.

Its focus spans recruitment and loyalty programs, e-mail, search and Web site design. Clients have included L’Oreal, Nestle, EDF, Bouygues Telecom, PPR, Ventes Privees, Lancome and Seb.

The move is in keeping with Publicis’ ongoing strategy to weight its subsidiaries toward digital media to a greater extent than its competitors.

Seems to be an uptick in European ad acquisitions this month. Aegis recently acquired a mobile marketing firm, and today WebTrends announced it would acquire a Stockholm-based Web analytics firm WebControl. (press release)

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