Monday, May 15, 2006

IPG - when not if

As Interpublic continues to struggle, the question becomes: "When will they get taken out?" rather than if. It's quite clear from IPG's most recent set of poor earnings (they've had a string of them), that the business is not about to turn the corner anytime soon. To try and correct matters the group has made significant changes to the management team and its corporate structure. None of which would appear to have worked. Revenues are sluggish compared to its peers and profits are, well.. they don't make a profit and haven't for some time. Reuters last week described the business as being in a 'tailspin." A mixture of accounting scandals and client defections is at the heart of the matter. The former has ratcheted up the accounting costs for the company putting it in to loss, while the latter has weakened the foundations of many of the Group's businesses.

All of this points to the prospect that WPP, Publicis or Omnicom will take out IPG. Of course you may argue that they don't need to. IPG would seem to be giving away their business right now. That said the business does still have sizeable revenues (around $5Bn a year) and would surely do better as a part of one of these Groups. I can only imagine then the pressures IPG shareholders are placing on the IPG board to find a suitor and get a deal done. So in my mind the question is definitely 'When?' not 'If?' and of course 'Who?'

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