Noon today, Friday November 25, is the deadline by which WPP Group and US private equity company Hellman & Friedman must make their play for Aegis Group.

Today's deadline was imposed by the UK Takeover Panel last month and, failing an eleventh-hour move by Sir Martin Sorrell and the moneymen, their putative bid will lapse and cannot be reinstated for a minimum period of six months.

It has been a volatile week for Aegis shares. On Monday stock market speculators went into a frenzy of buying after a report that Havas chairman Vincent Bolloré was mulling a joint bid in company with WPP and H&F. Accordingly, Aegis shares soared to £1.32 ($2.27; €1.93).

But Bolloré's curiously late entry into the bid arena left insufficient time for structuring negotiations with the other parties and it is believed he asked the Aegis board for more time - a request reportedly refused

As the clock ticks toward today's deadline, speculators are equally frenziedly regurgitating the shares swallowed earlier this week and at 0830 this morning Aegis stock stood at £1.17 - an 11.4% plunge from Monday's high.

This would be an opportune moment for a shrewd buyer to pick up Aegis shares at a far keener price than of late. A thought that may have ocurred to Monsieur Bolloré.

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