The planned acquisition of Grey Global Group by London-headquartered WPP Group appears to be back on schedule following an intervention by European Commission antitrust authorities.

WPP warned last week that even if the deal was given an EC thumbs-up, the probe could delay its completion until August 2005 [WAMN: 03-Dec-04]. But the commission is now expected to rule by January 24, thereby putting the deal back on course for completion in the early part of next year.

In any event, few analysts and media observers expect any draconian conditions to be attached to the takeover. Such reservations as there are reportedly relate to the European media-buying muscle conferred by the alignment of Grey's Mediacom with WPP networksMindShare and Mediaedge:cia.

Investors have paid little heed to the antitrust review, assuming the deal will close without problems. Since the EC's intervention, there has been little movement in the share prices either of Grey or WPP.

The deal is valued at $1.52 billion (€1.13bn; £781.65m) in cash and WPP stock.

Data sourced from AdAge (USA); additional content by WARC staff