WPP Group yesterday denied Monday’s report in MediaGuardian that it had approached Leagas Delaney shareholders to talk takeover turkey [WAMN: 25-Feb-02].

In a terse statement issued at 17.30GMT Tuesday WPP declared: “The implications of the MediaGuardian.co.uk story concerning WPP and Leagas Delaney are highly misleading, and suggestions that WPP has approached shareholders at Leagas Delaney are totally untrue.”

But despite the denial, insiders are adamant that a senior WPP emissary did recently approach Leagas Delaney to conduct takeover soundings. These, it is understood, revolved around the latter’s executives assuming management roles within Red Cell, WPP’s troubled fourth network, in which there are currently glaring gaps at senior level.

Two months ago, Red Cell UK chief executive Julian Saunders was invited to don the newly created mantle of European strategic planning director. This coincided with the unexpected departures of executive creative director Simon Frank and new business director Michelle Katz, cranking the rumour machine into a scenario that WPP was setting the stage for a related acquisition.

Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff