As Cordiant Communications prepares to sell-off much of its asset portfolio, a report in the British weekend press has Paris-headquartered Publicis Groupe mulling a €100 million ($113.44m; £70.47m) bid for the struggling global agency business.

Publicis already enjoys close links to Cordiant via its 65% stake in the jointly-held media network ZenithOptimedia. However, according to Rupert Murdoch’s upmarket UK megaphone, the Sunday Times, the French Lothario is not the only suitor eyeing the wan but still desirable belle.

Investment bank UBS, which is acting for Cordiant, admits to sending out a goodly number of fiscal goodie packs to interested parties – among them the management teams of certain Cordiant units. The major mbo candidate is specialist PR shop Financial Dynamics, long eager to sever its ties to Cordiant.

A largescale break-up is thought unlikely, however, and many observers believe a package deal comprising Bates Worldwide, 141 Communications and HealthWorld will likely go to Publicis or WPP Group.

Among the long-odds outsiders could be AIM-listed NWD, the investment vehicle of quondam mini-agency creative director Alan Page [WAMN: 30-Apr-03], while other gamblers prefer a horse with more credible form, Japanese agency giant Dentsu, the globe’s fifth largest ad group and a 15% stockholder in Publicis.

Data sourced from: Sunday Times (UK); additional content by WARC staff