French advertising group Publicis and its US rival Omnicom will merge, bringing together the third and second largest firms in the sector to form the world\'s advertising leader, the two companies announced Sunday. The new company, dubbed the Publicis Omnicom Group, whose capital will be split 50-50 between the shareholders of the two firms, will be co-directed by the current bosses, Maurice Levy of Publicis and John Wren of Omnicom, a joint statement said. \"For many years, we have had great respect for one another as well as for the companies we each lead,\" Levy and Wren said in the statement. \"This respect has grown in the past few months as we have worked to make this combination a reality.\" The merger, which has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies, will bring together more than 130,000 employees. It will also bring together such iconic ad agency brands as Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett, Razorfish, Ketchum, ZenithOptimedia, to name a few. Based on closing prices on July 26, the new group will have a combined market capitalisation of about $35.1 billion (26.5 billion euros). It is expected to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange and Euronext Paris, and included in the S&P 500 and CAC 40.