France's Publicis to buy LBi in 416 million euro deal

PARIS (Reuters) - Publicis PUBP.PA has agreed to acquire Dutch ad agency LBi International NV LBI.AS in a deal valuing the company at 416 million euros ($538.80 million), the French group's latest move to boost its exposure to digital advertising.

The 2.85 euro-a-share offer, which LBi’s board has accepted, is at a 7.5 percent premium to the ad agency’s closing share price on Thursday.

The deal is the latest in a flurry of M&A activity among ad agencies as the larger groups buy up the few remaining faster growing digitally-focused smaller shops.

“The acquisition of LBi is another step forward in further strengthening our digital operations” Publicis Chief Executive Maurice Lévy said in a statement.

Publicis’s existing digital units include Digitas, Razorfish and Rosetta.

Martin Sorrell's advertising giant WPP WPP.L bought award-winning digital agency AKQA in June to tap into its success across social media. In a larger deal, Japanese ad giant Dentsu 4324.T agreed to buy marketing group Aegis in July.

LBi, whose shares are up 52 percent so far this year, had announced in June that it was in preliminary talks with potential buyers.

($1 = 0.7721 euros)

Reporting By Christian Plumb; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Sofina Mirza-Reid