Paris-headquartered agency holding company Publicis Groupe on Monday evening rebuffed overtures from Cordiant Communications’ largest shareholder, Active Value Advisors, that could have resulted in a change of control of the beleaguered agency group – and torpedo today’s planned share delisting.

In a statement last night, Publicis declared it had “no interest in acquiring, directly or indirectly, shares in Cordiant or in participating, either directly or indirectly, in any possible attempt to gain control of Cordiant”.

WPP also made it known it will take immediate legal action if there is any further attempt to tamper with the control of Cordiant. In addition the Takeover Panel has warned all concerned it must be informed in advance of any further eleventh-hour shareholder moves.

All of which will disappoint Julian Treger and Brian Myerson, the razor-sharp duo who run AVA and are reputedly able to sniff the scent of a floating five pound note at one thousand yards.
As the world now knows, the trigger for these last minute shenanigans is Cordiant’s 25% stake in media network ZenithOptimedia. It has an option to sell this to Publicis – which owns the remaining 75% – at a fixed price of £75 million ($120.77m; €107.05m), which option would transfer to WPP as part of the takeover deal recommended by the Cordiant board.

But if control of Cordiant were to change hands for any other reason, the stake would sell for £75m. – or 25% of Cordiant’s capital value – whichever is the lower figure.

As Cordiant’s equity value currently stands at around £3m, that’s just £750,000. A deal almost as alluring as the sale of Manhattan for a handful of beads.

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