Taylor Nelson wins fight for Interpublic Group's NFO

LONDON - Taylor Nelson Sofres, the market research firm, has finally agreed to buy rival company NFO WorldGroup from the cash-strapped US advertising behemoth Interpublic Group.

Taylor Nelson, the UK-listed market research firm that researches consumer trends, television audiences and advertising effectiveness, agreed a cash and share deal worth $425m (£263.8m) with Interpublic, the world's second largest advertising group.

Other companies, including Carat-owning Aegis Group and French media firm Ipsos are also believed to have been in the running. United Business Media and WPP Group had dropped out early on.

Having recently ruled itself out of buying NFO, after it said it would not issue equity to fund the acquisition, Taylor Nelson changed tack and proposed a placing of 39.1m shares to raise a net total of around £51m towards the acquisition. After the deal was announced, its shares leapt 12% to 152p.

Taylor Nelson said it expects cost savings of more than £3m by the end of 2003, and more than £10m in 2004, and one-off integration costs of up to £6m in 2003.

Interpublic put NFO up for sale in January to raise some badly needed funds. Interpublic recently uncovered another $165.7m in charges going back to 1997 and said that profits for the fourth quarter of 2002 had fallen to $20.3m, the result of a collapse of profits at McCann-Erickson WorldGroup. The charges come on top of $181.3m already uncovered last year.

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