Many in the ad industry are puzzled as to the name of the game Active Value Fund Management is playing?

Already the largest single investor in Cordiant Communications with a stake large enough to scupper WPP Group’s agreed takeover plan, AVFM announced Wednesday it had bought yet more shares in Cordiant.

Over one million more to be precise – lifting its stake to 27.17%. And paying £0.0226 per share more than the current market price of £0.0233. Two point seven pence above the £0.0233 on offer from WPP.

The key to AVFM’s otherwise inexplicable continued stakebuilding in Cordiant may lie in the small print of a statement issued Monday by WPP: that its offer is final and will not be sweetened. Unless a competing bid for Cordiant emerges. AVFM needs to raise its holding by just 2.83% to reach the magic level of 30% – when under UK takeover law it must launch a full bid.

But Wednesday evening French bank CCF Banque Priveé revealed it had bought 2% of Cordiant’s shares at £0.0285 each on behalf of a client, Madame Nahed Ojjeh.

WAMN has discovered that Ojjeh, a Paris-domiciled Syrian multimillionairess chess fanatic, has close links to London based Einstein Group, an AIM-quoted multimedia company which in 2001 posted a turnover of £3.01 million. Founded in September 1999, its stated objective is “to establish a worldwide multimedia brand dedicated to science, technology and lifelong learning”.

Chief executive officer Steve Timmins, a former head of department within ITV and senior producer at the BBC, is the largest single shareholder by far with 8.07% of Einstein’s equity.

Non-executive chairman John Sanderson (with 0.43%) is an independent consultant with extensive contacts in the radio, TV, advertising and marketing services and new media industries.

Another director/shareholder (0.7%) is Derek Wyatt, Labour MP for Sittingbourne, Kent who also serves as a non-executive member of the board.

Could this trio - together with AVFM and the exotic Mme Ojjeh - be about to spring the surprise of the decade on the global ad village?

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff