Update: Please see our followup story, with exclusive comments from WPP's Sir Martin Sorrell and Nick Waters of Dentu Aegis Network: Publicis-Omnicom rivals lament merger's failure
A statement from the companies said the decision was a "mutual agreement, in view of difficulties in completing the transaction within a reasonable timeframe".
The would-be bedfellows walk away from the situation unscathed, as they have released each other from all obligations, and no termination fees will be payable by either party, according to the statement.
The management board and the supervisory board of Publicis Groupe and the board of directors of Omnicom approved the termination unanimously, the statement said.
"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 statment.