UK Takeover Panel Scolds Billionairess Over Cordiant Holding

21 July 2003

The British Takeover Panel has deprecated the share-buying activities of Madame Nahed Ojjeh - a glamorous, incredibly wealthy, Paris based chess-promoting widow of a Syrian arms dealer - taking her to task for her dramatic eleventh hour intervention in the takeover battle for ailing global ad company Cordiant Communications.

No, its not the scenario for Hollywood’s latest blockbuster starring Joan Collins – but what passes for real life in the financial badlands of the City of London. The Panel “concluded that number of breaches of the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers” had been committed by Ojjeh.

The widow’s gambit was to write to Cordiant on July 8 stating she had amassed a 10.75% interest in the company between June 10 and July 4. One day later, Ojjeh admitted she’d got it wrong: the stake, it seemed, amounted only to 9.89%.

What’s more, she had started to shop for her shares without notifying the panel – a naughty act following the revelation by Cordiant that it had received a number of approaches that “may or may not lead to an offer”.

Worse yet, it was revealed last week that Ojjeh’s shopping spree continued until the day before Cordiant shares were delisted and that she now holds a 10.95%.The Panel, a toothless watchdog with no statutory power, solemnly declared her to be “accordingly hereby criticised”.

It is not known how Mme Ojjeh reacted to this draconian punishment. But word from Paris is that the billionairess is prostrate in a darkened room with a bottle of Krug, emitting sounds that “may or may not” be hysterical laughter.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff