Publicis CEO says board backs him after Omnicom deal fails

PARIS Fri May 9, 2014 3:05am EDT

PARIS May 9 (Reuters) - Publicis Chief Executive Maurice Levy said the board of the advertising group backed him after a $35 billion merger with U.S. peer Omnicom fell apart because of a power struggle in what was billed a merger of equals.

"I was very attached to the concept of equality and was not ready to cede on this point," said Levy in an interview, adding that a fight over who would be the chief financial officer was a major reason for the fall-out.

"The board considers that we managed things correctly, and they are 250 percent supportive of my decision," said Levy.

Levy, who is 72 years old, has been at the helm of Publicis for more than 30 years and his succession was supposed to have been resolved by the deal in which Omnicom boss John Wren would have taken over.

"The next task for the board will be to plan for my succession," he said. (Reporting by Leila Abboud and Gwenaelle Barzic; Editing by Mark John)

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