Sir Martin Sorrell, canny helmsman of WPP Group, is said to be poring the charts in a bid to navigate his ship away from the stormy waters of its accepted bid for global media-buying and marketing services specialist Tempus Group.

Sorrell has already sailed into a temporary safe haven by extending WPP’s offer until October 15, during which time he is expected to seek regulatory permission to withdraw the bid on grounds of a “material adverse change condition” - citing the events of September 11 and their worldwide fallout.

The ensuing tempest was forseen ten days earlier by rival bidder, the even cannier Havas chairman/ceo Alain de Pouzilhac. “We must not go through with this bid now that a recession is more and more likely,” he declared and promptly quit the race.

As at October 1, WPP holds (or commands) a total of 55,892,624 Tempus Shares, representing approximately 73.5% of Tempus’ current issued share capital and 93.9% of the Tempus shares to which the offer relates – suddenly an albatross around WPP's neck in the stock market maelstrom that followed the September 11 tragedy.

If WPP is bound to its accepted bid by the stock market authorities, and if there is no revival in the fortunes of the markets over the next two weeks, WPP’s committed offer of £5.55 per Tempus share exceeds by far their October 1 value of £4.375.

Which would impale Sir Martin on the horns of what is technically known in the inner sanctums of finance as a dilemma.

News source: AdAge Global