As the deadline approaches for the Grey Global auction, just three players are believed to remain in the race to acquire the last of the top independent advertising companies.
Taking their places at the starting blocks are: the world's second largest marketing services holding company WPP Group, French-based counterpart Havas and US private equity group Hellman & Freidman.
WPP's ceo, Sir Martin Sorrell, maintains interest in acquiring Grey, and is likely to fund any takeover with a cash-shares mix. After receiving the all-clear from its top clients, WPP is expected to submit a bid valuing the company at £600 million ($1.07bn; €884m).
Havas is reported to have secured financing from Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale for a €1bn ($1.2bn; £679m) ten-year junk bond issue and could make €500m available through shares.
It has not formally confirmed it will make an offer for Grey, and some believe it may face difficulties over previous firings from Procter & Gamble, one of Grey's main clients.
Hellman & Friedman, meanwhile, is understood to be prepared to pay over $850 (€705; £479) cash per share, valuing Grey at $1bn. Following strong quarterly results last month, some analysts predict that a final offer could be even higher.
Data sourced from: Telegraph.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff