(Adds source saying report is unfounded)
Aug 29 Online advertising company Criteo SA's
shares jumped as much as 21 percent in early trading on
the Nasdaq, after French media reported that advertising group
Publicis Groupe SA was in talks to buy the Paris-based
But late Friday, a source close to Publicis told Reuters
that the reports were "unfounded".
Financial daily Les Echos reported on Friday that
negotiations, which first began before a planned $35 billion
merger of Publicis and Omnicom Group Inc was unveiled in
July 2013, restarted three months ago after the Omnicom deal
Boursier.com, a financial website for traders, had earlier
cited an unnamed market source as saying Publicis was
considering making a bid for Criteo.
Criteo has a market capitalization of roughly $1.8 billion.
Even with a 20 percent premium, the price tag would barely top
$2 billion and Publicis could easily afford it, Les Echos said.
Criteo and Publicis declined to comment.
Exane BNP Paribas analyst Charles Bedouelle said that few
other "meaningful" acquisitions were possible in this market,
where Criteo is one of the "very best and largest" players.
Criteo, which went public last October, raised its full-year
revenue forecast earlier this month.
Publicis warned last month it would be "very difficult" to
meet its sales growth target this year after a second-quarter
slowdown, caused in part by the failure of its planned merger
with Omnicom in May.
The world's third-largest advertising group and its deal
with No. 2 Omnicom was supposed to create the world's largest
The companies called off the merger after a battle for
control and divergent corporate cultures.
Criteo shares were up 18 percent at $36.21 on the Nasdaq on
Friday morning after touching a high of $37.01 in their biggest
ever intraday gain.
Nearly 2.4 million shares changed hands by 10.20 a.m. ET,
almost six times the 10-day average volume, making the stock one
of the most traded on the Nasdaq.
(Reporting by Abhirup Roy in Bangalore, Leila Abboud and
Natalie Huet in Paris; Editing by Michael Urquhart)