Publicis Groupe and Omnicom Group Inc.  have terminated their proposed merger of equals by mutual agreement, in view of difficulties in completing the transaction within a reasonable timeframe.

“The challenges that still remained to be overcome, in addition to the slow pace of progress, created a level of uncertainty detrimental to the interests of both groups and their employees, clients and shareholders. We have thus jointly decided to proceed along our independent paths. We, of course, remain competitors, but maintain a great respect for one another,” Maurice Lévy, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Publicis Groupe, and John Wren, President and Chief Executive Officer of Omnicom Group, said in a joint statement.

In the statement, the parties said they have released each other from all obligations with respect to the proposed transaction, and no termination fees will be payable by either party.

This decision was unanimously approved by the Management Board and the Supervisory Board of Publicis Groupe and the Board of Directors of Omnicom, the statement said.

“It’s surprising news but not surprising,” Omnicom Asia Pacific CEO Cheuk  Chiang said.

“The key point I want to make about that is that mergers of this size, when you’re forming the largest organization on the planet are often very, very complicated. Ultimately the decision was made not to go that way because the one thing that we wanted to protect the most was the culture, the culture of our organizations, our people, and our clients,” he told adobo. “So the decision was made not to go ahead with the merger primarily because of issues to do with culture, on top of all the other issues like tax, and issues to do with anti-trust.” 

The megamerger would have combined ad agencies such as BBDO, DDB, Leo Burnett, Saatchi & Saatchi, and TBWA.