True North takeover blocks Publicus bid

$440 million deal creates country's sixth-largest ad agency

NEW YORK — True North Communications shareholders on Tuesday approved a $440 million takeover of Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon & Eckhardt, creating the country’s sixth-largest ad agency.

Approval of the deal thwarted a hostile bid for True North from Publicis, the French agency that owned 18.4% of True North shares and had ended an acrimonious global partnership earlier this year.

Chicago-based True North said holders of 77% of its stock voted in favor of the deal, which calls for a merger of media-buying operations BJK&E Media Group and TN Media. That consolidation, plus the elimination of duplicate corporate overhead, will result in a loss of 200-300 of 11,000 jobs.

Bozell and True North’s Foote, Cone & Belding will continue to operate as separate entities, with combined revenues of $1.2 billion from clients including Chrysler Corp., American Airlines, S.C. Johnson, Mattel and Levi Strauss.

Publicis had contested buyout plans, which will diminish its stake in the combined company to 10%. It sued in Delaware court and sought to mount its own hostile tender offer, which True North successfully enjoined.