WPP stays firm over shareholder ploy to raise Cordiant price

The tug-of-war for control of the Cordiant group intensified this week as WPP refused to bow to pressure to increase its offer for the beleaguered company.

The decision of Sir Martin Sorrell, WPP's chief executive, not to up his £266 million offer has dashed the hope of Active Value, the rebel shareholder group.

Active Value recently increased its stake in Cordiant to 27.1 per cent in an effort to get better terms from WPP.

Now Active Value finds its options severely limited after Cordiant's announced intention to delist on 16 July. The action would protect the group's disposals programme, including the £75 million sale of its 25 per cent in ZenithOptimedia to Publicis Groupe.

Meanwhile, the majority of clients remaining at Cordiant - including Pfizer, Roche and Heinz - are expected to move into WPP's J. Walter Thompson should Sorrell's bid succeed. Bates' Sky television account is likely to be consolidated within HHCL/Red Cell, which already handles the Sky Plus assignment. That agency is also likely to pick up the Nouvelle toilet tissue account, as JWT handles Andrex.

At the same time, a major part of the Bates operation in Europe is scheduled to be folded into WPP's Red Cell network. Red Cell chiefs are said to be interested in Bates offices, which would offer either a good strategic fit or are in areas where Red Cell is under-represented.