Call to Arms at WPP as Sorrel Mulls Counter-Bid for Tempus

20 July 2001

Following the agreed takeover of Tempus Group by Havas Advertising [WAMN: 19-Jul-01], WPP Group chairman Sir Martin Sorrell was yesterday closeted with advisers as he considered whether to launch a rival bid for the media and marketing services group.

Sorrell is distinctly underwhelmed at the prospect of Havas upping its share of the media planning/buying market with the acquisition of Tempus, in which WPP holds an unwelcome 22% strategic stake. But WPP investors could be even less enthused at the prospect of trying to outbid Havas’ seemingly substantial premium.

A clash of egos could also figure in the outcome of the ad opera – Tempus founder and principal shareholder Chris Ingram has made no secret of his displeasure at Sorrel’s purchase of a stake in his fiefdom. If WPP wins the day, Ingram and his key executives are believed unlikely to remain with the business

Ingram has already agreed with the French group to remain as co-chairman of the merged media operation which will trade under the banner of Havas’ existing global media unit, Media Planning Group.

Alain de Pouzilhac, Havas chairman and chief executive denied that the agreed offer overvalued Tempus: “We didn’t pay too much. We paid the right price and we believe the shareholders will accept because it is a good offer.”

News source: The Times (London)