US courts rule against Publicis chief’s acquisition of True North

The attempted takeover of True North by Maurice Levy, the Publicis chairman, was on hold again this week after a ping-pong legal battle involving three US courts.

The attempted takeover of True North by Maurice Levy, the Publicis

chairman, was on hold again this week after a ping-pong legal battle

involving three US courts.



Levy’s move against his former global partner was thwarted by the Court

of Chancery of the State of Delaware, which ruled this Tuesday that a

temporary restraining order preventing Publicis scuppering True North’s

takeover of Bozell should stay in place.



Earlier, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit had lifted the

order imposed by the Illinois judge, Joan Gottschall (Campaign, last

week).



Judge Gottschall’s ruling prevented Levy interfering with a vote on the

Bozell deal by True North shareholders on 30 December.



Levy had hoped to use the temporary reprieve to whip up shareholder

support for his offer of dollars 28 for each of more than 9,600,000 True

North shares - a move that would give Publicis a controlling interest -

and to urge shareholders to reject the group’s proposed acquisition of

Bozell.



Now his plan has had to be aborted after Chancellor William Chandler’s

decision to re-impose the order pending a further hearing on 22

December.



True North claims Publicis is acting in violation of a May agreement

that commits it to support the Bozell deal.



This week, however, Publicis executives were putting a brave face on the

Delaware ruling. ’We’re encouraged by what the judge has said,’ one

commented. ’He has not ruled on the essence of the case and, if Publicis

wins on 22 December, there would still be time to put back the

shareholders’ meeting.’



True North says it is confident the court will make the order permanent,

allowing the Bozell takeover to proceed and ending Levy’s own bid for

True North. Theodore Theophilos, True North’s general counsel and

executive vice-president, said: ’The facts are still the facts.’



Meanwhile, True North chiefs are urging shareholders to stay on side

despite the reported unhappiness that Bozell will not answer True

North’s need for a strong second global network alongside FCB or add to

the value of their shares.



Bruce Mason, True North’s chairman, said: ’Despite Publicis’s efforts,

its actions cannot distract attention from the strong global aspects of

our link with Bozell.’



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