Shareholders seek Interpublic sell-off after accounting misconduct

Interpublic Group was weighing up the prospect of a sell-off this week after its attempts to dampen shareholder calls for a sale were rejected by the US financial regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The FutureBrand owner faces the prospect of the sale of its assets to the highest bidder after a shareholder backlash following a series of accounting irregularities at the company.

Lorna Tilbian, analyst at Numis Securities, says that in spite of the troubles of the past few years, IPG ‘remained a force to be reckoned with in terms of its operations and core business’.

She adds that in the event of a break-up, the group would attempt to salvage its best assets, such as media agency network Universal McCann, and sell off its smaller brands.

‘If FutureBrand is a nugget it will get approaches,’ she adds. FutureBrand declined to comment on the news.

Last week, IPG announced it is to restate its earnings for the past six quarters on 30 September, as it revealed details of its investigation into accounting errors.

Evidence of ‘possible employee misconduct’ has emerged, it said. The company has uncovered ‘instances of falsified books and records, violations of laws, regulations and company policies, misappropriation of assets and inappropriate customer charges and dealings with vendors’.

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