Publicis hits another snag in Sapient deal

The $3.7 billion deal remains up in the air as Publicis works to meet demands of U.S. regulators and government bodies.

Publicis Groupe’s planned acquisition of Sapient remains on hold, with a new deadline set for end of the day on Feb. 5.

This is the fourth time the deadline on the offer has been extended since it was first announced in November, with the most recent deadline passing last week. The offer would see Publicis purchase, in cash, all outstanding shares of Sapient for $25 (U.S.) per share, or $3.7 billion, creating a platform dubbed “Publicis.Sapient” dedicated entirely to digital growth in marketing, multi-channel commerce and consulting.

As has been the case with many of the other extensions, a press release from Publicis said the extension was given to allow additional time to satisfy conditions placed on foreign entities investing in or seeking control of American companies. The offer will expire at the deadline on Feb. 5, although the possibility for another extension remains.

Another factor contributing to the delay is Sapient’s close work with departments of the U.S. government – including the Department of Homeland Security – through its Sapient Government Services division. This means extra scrutiny has been coming from the Department of Defense and Department of Energy, which are required to ensure a contractor should be allowed to maintain the security clearances required to perform its duties while under foreign control.

The release also said that as of Jan. 22, the last deadline, shareholders representing 80.6% of Sapient’s stock had agreed to the offer. The boards of both companies approved the deal in November.

When Publicis initially announced the deal, it was stated the acquisition was being done to make Publicis a leader in the digital age and would make more than 50% of its total revenue from digital, three years ahead of a previously set goal of 2018.

Less than one year ago, Publicis and Omnicom terminated their planned merger due to the amount of time it was taking to resolve the challenges that arose in completing the deal.

Headquartered in Boston, Sapient employs 13,000 people in 37 branches across the globe, including one in Toronto. It operates three divisions: integrated digital marketing and creative agency SapientNitro, commodity-focused business and technology service provider Sapient Global Markets, and Government Services.

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