Regulator Intervenes in WPP Bid for TNS

04 July 2008

LONDON: What Sir Martin wants Sir Martin usually gets, as takeover targets ranging from David Ogilvy to Grey Advertising's Ed Meyer might ruefully (and richly) have attested. This time, however, it could – just could – be different. Or so hopes the Taylor Nelson Sofres board.

On Thursday Martin Sorrell launched his third attempt to derail the agreed marriage between TNS and Germany's GfK Verein.

Dangling a singularly juicy carrot beneath the noses of TNS shareholders the foxy knight offered £2.60 a share conditional on the TNS board releasing certain fiscal information and recommending his bid.

Although a 47.7% uplift on WPP Group's £1.76 temperature-tester in May, the latest offer in cash and shares was brusquely rejected by the TNS board on grounds that it still "substantially undervalues" the market research group.

Said TNS chairman Donald Brydon: "It is clear that WPP [is] determined to try to frustrate the GfK-TNS merger for the benefit of its underperforming Kantar division. It is time for Sir Martin Sorrell and WPP to stop interfering and make their intentions clear."

The TNS board, added Brydon, "has been extraordinarily patient with Sir Martin Sorrell." 

His opinion is apparently shared by the UK Takeover Panel which on Wednesday gave WPP until July 9 to make a firm offer for TNS or announce that no firm offer is forthcoming.

Data sourced from Financial Times and AdWeek (USA); additional content by WARC staff