European Commission competition regulators yesterday gave formal approval to Havas Advertising’s proposed takeover of London-headquartered Tempus Group.

The deal, over which a questionmark has hung since last month’s counterbid from WPP Group [WAMN: 20-Aug-01], was formally assessed by the EC for its impact on the markets for media buying and marketing communication services, including advertising, in all countries of the European Union.

Yesterday the Commission issued a formal statement that the proposal created no competition concerns, although a Havas/Tempus union would command the biggest share of the media buying markets in France, Spain and Portugal – estimated at between 15% and 25% of the whole. However, the Commission concluded: “In all these countries, the merged group will still face significant competition from a number of other agencies.”

In the marketing communications sector Havas/Tempus would wield even less muscle, opined the Commission. The two groups' combined market share would be well below 15%, both EU-wide and in individual member states.

It is not publicly known whether the EC has been asked to rule on the competition status of a possible WPP/Tempus combination, although their aggregated market share both in media buying and marketing services would far exceed that of Havas/Tempus.

News source: Advertising Age - International Daily