Merger? That's a dumb idea, says boss of ad giant Interpublic

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The Independent Online

The boss of the world's fourth-biggest advertising group has squashed fresh speculation about a possible merger.

"You don't team up unless there's a need to team up," Michael Roth, chairman and chief executive of Interpublic, told The Independent, dismissing talk of a tie-up with bigger rival Publicis Groupe to compete with the two biggest companies, WPP and Omnicom. He said Interpublic's financial strength was "as good as it's been for years" as he has returned $1bn (£648m) to shareholders after a tough decade. He maintained there were no marketing disciplines or regions where it is lacking except China, and the only reason to sell was "if someone put a compelling price in front of us".

Interpublic has half the stock-market value of the big three ad groups but Mr Roth said it is "similar in size" apart from media-buying. "The reason we are four versus three was that particular company [Publicis] instead of returning all that money to shareholders, bought companies. I could have done the same." Mr Roth was speaking at the Cannes Lions festival of creativity, where his creative agency McCann Erickson won the top film award for an animated Australian rail safety campaign called Dumb Ways To Die, pictured.

He is relatively unknown compared to WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell and Maurice Levy of Publicis. "I'm not the brand," said Mr Roth. "It's our people who are running our networks."

Interpublic generates almost £400m a year in sales in Britain and £4bn worldwide.