In its first public statement since news broke that Grey Global Group had put itself up for sale [WAMN: 28-Jun-04], the world's seventh largest agency network spelled out that its assets would not be sold piecemeal.

Grey, which is very much the fiefdom of its chairman/ceo/controlling shareholder Ed Meyer, has consistently refused all comment -- until Monday when it issued a terse statement confirming the appointment of US investment banks Goldman Sachs and J P Morgan to act on its behalf. It also stressed the group would be sold only as a complete entity.

According to insiders, the 77-year-old Meyer has also let it be known he is not averse to treating with private equity groups, despite an earlier smoke signal he would sell only to another agency.

WPP Group is already running its slide rule over the Meyer property (although conflicts of interest between the clientele of both groups -- notably Unilever and Procter & Gamble -- could torpedo a deal).

Other seemingly obvious contenders, Omnicom and Publicis, have declared themselves non-runners. But there is mounting speculation that Havas could enter the fray, especially given its current need to acquire critical mass.

Also sniffing around the Grey periphery is San Francisco-based buy-out group Hellman & Friedman, which already has stakes in several advertising properties.

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