Grey looks for September sale as another bid emerges

NEW YORK - Grey Global Group is aiming to wrap up its sale process by early September as reports emerge that a new bidder may make an offer for the advertising company.

According to Reuters, Providence Equity Partners is considering bidding for Grey, owner of Grey Worldwide and MediaCom. It is the third private equity group reported to be interested in the firm, along with Blackstone Group and Hellman & Friedman.

They join WPP Group, headed by chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell, which has expressed interest in Grey and is carrying out due diligence.

However, investment bank Morgan Stanley yesterday said it did not believe WPP would go ahead with a bid. French advertising group Havas has also expressed an interest but it is unclear whether it can raise sufficient funds.

Grey has asked one of the bidders to submit final offers in the first week of September, leading to speculation that the sale could be concluded after the US Labor Day holiday, held on the first Monday in September.

Grey Global, headed by long-serving chairman and chief executive Ed Meyer, said in July it had appointed advisers to look at the possibility of a sale. But the move has failed to set the market alight -- at one point WPP appeared to be the only interested party.

Providence Equity Partners is based in Rhode Island and specialises in investing in media and communications companies. Along with stakes in telecoms businesses such as Eircom, it has invested in the Canadian satellite broadcaster Craig Media and has a stake in the media rights of the New York Yankees.

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