A sign for Publicis Groupe SA is seen at their headquarters in Paris, France. (Photographer: Balint Porneczi/Bloomberg)

Publicis Close to Deal to Buy Alliance Data's Epsilon Unit: WSJ

(Bloomberg) -- Publicis Group SA is close to a deal to buy Alliance Data Systems Corp.’s Epsilon unit for about $4.5 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter.

The newspaper reported a deal could be announced this weekend.

The French advertising conglomerate has been studying acquiring Epsilon to push further into digital marketing. It would be the company’s biggest takeover.

A takeover would bring Publicis more online data-mining expertise to help clients target shoppers more effectively and reduce its reliance on conventional advertising, which is in decline as consumers turn away from newspapers and traditional TV.

Publicis Chief Executive Officer Arthur Sadoun has poured resources into what he calls “strategic game changers,” businesses that make better use of data and devise creative digital offerings for clients. It already made one of the industry’s boldest bets on ad technology in 2015 with the $3.7 billion purchase of Boston-based Sapient.

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