LONDON: German market research giant GfK is reportedly talking to private equity firm Cinven about a joint bid for British rival Taylor Nelson Sofres, following the decision to scrap their friendly 'merger of equals'.

The duo called off their nil-premium union following last week's tabling of a £1.08 billion ($2.17bn; €1.35bn) hostile bid for TNS by UK-headquartered marketing services conglomerate WPP Group.

The latter has entered the takeover fray to improve its client offering and boost revenues from more recession-proof services such as research, as opposed to economy-sensitive advertising.   

Cinven would be expected to provide between £400 million and £600m to outbid WPP.

Another unnamed equity partner has also been approached by GfK. However, any tie-up with overseas finance would raise the eyebrows of its 57% shareholder, the GfK-Verein charitable trust.

The latter has made it clear it would prefer more politically correct, home-grown investors, such as billionaire Gunter Herz and his family who made their money from the Tchibo coffee chain.

Data sourced from Brand Republic (UK); additional content by WARC staff