Grey boosts its appeal with profit increase

Grey Global Group this week made itself more attractive to potential suitors with the announcement of a 127 per cent rise in second-quarter net profits.

The company's profits jumped to £6 million last quarter, compared with £2.6 million for the corresponding period last year.

The figures reflect the impact of a weaker dollar and a strong performance by Grey's European operations, where profits more than doubled.

The increase came despite disappointing figures from Scandinavia, where Grey's agencies reported a £2.6 million pre-tax loss.

Revenue from Europe and the US rose by 17.8 per cent and 8.4 per cent respectively for the period.

Last month, Grey confirmed it had appointed Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase & Co to explore strategic options, including a sale.

Havas has expressed interest in acquiring Grey, as has Sir Martin Sorrell's WPP, which is currently conducting due diligence. However, Havas' hopes of acquiring Grey, which is expected to attract a price tag of more than £700 million, could be scuppered amid reports that its private equity partner, Quadrangle, is considering pulling out of the running.

That could lead to a straight fight between WPP and the private equity companies Hellman & Friedman and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, which are reported to be considering a joint bid.

Meanwhile, Mike Dolan, the former Young & Rubicam chairman, has emerged as an adviser to Hellman & Friedman on a possible Grey bid.

This would pitch Dolan up against Sorrell, his former boss. The pair are said to have had a fraught relationship after WPP took over Y&R four years ago.

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