* Deal creates world's biggest advertising agency
* Brussels says merger does not damage competition
By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS, Jan 9 EU antitrust regulators said on
Thursday they had cleared the $35 billion merger of U.S.
advertising agency Omnicom and French peer Publicis
The deal creates the world's biggest advertising agency to
compete better with the likes of Google and Facebook
in online ad sales. Omnicom now ranks second behind
leader WPP, with Publicis in third place.
Reuters reported on Dec. 17 that the EU antitrust authority
would approve the deal.
"The merged entity would be sufficiently constrained by
several competitors, including large international advertising
groups," the European Commission said in a statement. "Should
the merged entity increase its prices or decrease the quality of
its services, customers would have the ability to switch."
Analysts had expected the deal to trigger tough antitrust
scrutiny because of the combined company's strong market share
and possible concerns from major clients.
The Commission did not see risks to damaging competition.
"Changing agencies would be facilitated by the bidding
nature of the markets, the relatively short duration of
contracts and the relatively limited costs incurred for
switching," the Commission said.
The French-U.S. giant will bring the accounts of major
competitors in a number of industries such as Apple and
Samsung, or Coca-Cola and PepsiCo,
under one roof. It will also group together Publicis agencies
such as Saatchi & Saatchi and Leo Burnett with Omnicom's BBDO
Worldwide and DDB Worldwide.
Regulators in the United States, South Korea, Canada, India,
Turkey and South Africa have already given the green light to