Tempus Clients Warn of Conflict of Interest if WPP Bid Succeeds

20 August 2001

Possible account conflicts could scupper the “friendly” bid for Tempus Group tabled last week by WPP Group’s Sir Martin Sorrell.

Rumbles are said to be emanating from one of Tempus’ largest clients DaimlerChrysler which last year billed $1.6 billion. The German/American carmaker, say insiders, is less than happy at the possibility of sharing the same bedroom as WPP’s $3bn Ford Motor Company business.

Another possible major conflict is that between the $250m Visa account which last year generated billings for Tempus of around $250m. This could clash head-on with American Express which spent $200m through WPP’s Ogilvy & Mather network during the first nine months of 2000.

A Sorrell spoke last night played down the conflict issue with the imperious observation: “Conflicts like this are not uncommon in advertising. They are dealt with every day.”

Meantime, Sorrel’s cards remain glued to his chest. With his so-called “friendly” offer likely to be spurned by Tempus, the possibility of a hostile bid remains. WPP, said the spoke, with inspired ambiguity, is only “65% decided on whether or not to proceed”.

News source: The Times (London)