WPP is on the verge of launching a counterbid for Tempus, which
could scupper Havas' takeover.
Sir Martin Sorrell, the group chief executive of WPP, has been in talks
with senior Tempus executives about a deal that would smash Havas'
541p-a-share cash offer. The Havas offer values Tempus at £425
million but WPP may decide that a higher bid is good value because it
paid just 200p a share for the 22 per cent of Tempus that it already
JP Morgan, Havas' adviser on the deal, has made a complaint to the
Takeover Panel, urging WPP to clarify its position. Havas' advisers
claim that uncertainty over WPP's intentions is contributing to
fluctuations in the share price of WPP and Tempus. Tempus shares rose
2.64 per cent to 583.5p on Wednesday morning and WPP shares were down
2.42 per cent at 685p.
Discussions between WPP and Tempus are thought to have focused on likely
synergies between the two groups and positions for senior executives if
a bid is made. One possibility would be a merger of CIA with WPP's The
Media Edge, which was acquired as part of WPP's takeover of Young &
Rubicam last year.
City sources are predicting that if Sorrell decides to move, he will
make a bid by Monday. WPP's half-year results are announced on Monday
and it also marks the first closing date on the Havas bid with
institutions moving forward on the offer.
However, WPP or any other prospective buyer has until 28 September to
table a bid.
Chris Ingram, the chairman of Tempus, would be obliged to recommend a
higher cash offer from WPP despite his own reservations about a
Havas refused to say whether it would return with a higher offer if WPP
makes a bid.