Havas Advertising has withdrawn from the bidding struggle for Tempus Group, owner of media buying agency CIA Medianetwork, citing the worsening economic outlook.

“We must not go through with this bid now that a recession is more and more likely. It would be unwise,” explained Havas chairman/ceo Alain de Pouzilhac. “To make a higher bid would be unreasonable in an environment which is getting worse by the day and which has been hit even harder by the recent terrible events in the USA.”

Havas has suffered amid falling markets – this morning its stock fell 9.7% to E6.46 (£4.08).

The decision hands victory to the only remaining bidder Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP Group, who remained unusually reticent: “Given the takeover code, I cannot make any comment at this time,” he said.

WPP’s offer of 555p, countering Havas’s initial 541p bid, values Tempus at £437m. Havas had until now been expected to respond with a higher bid. Under the formal offer document released last week by WPP, Tempus has until October 1 to accept.

De Pouzilhac expressed confidence in Havas’s own media unit, the Media Planning Group: “I remain confident in MPG’s total ability to continue to build a dynamic and profitable media activity for the future. In this new environment, MPG’s market position, combined with our financial capacity, will generate some outstanding opportunities. Today was no longer the right moment.”

News source: CampaignLive (UK)