TNS softens to WPP deal but fails to draw higher offer

LONDON - The WPP-TNS takeover saga is continuing to drag out after a meeting between the two companies failed to draw a higher offer from WPP, prompting another rejection from its research quarry.

TNS revealed late on Friday evening that its chairman Donald Brydon had met on Tuesday with counterpart Sir Martin Sorrell to discuss the potential for WPP to make an offer that would be recommended by the TNS board. However, the meeting finished without agreement.

On Friday the latest deadline for TNS shareholders to accept WPP's hostile £1.1bn offer lapsed with acceptances from just 11%, up from 8.6% as of the last deadline on August 29.

WPP has elected to extend its existing cash and shares offer until September 26. Having initially valued TNS at £1.08bn when it was made on July 9, the offer currently values the company at £1.22bn due to the increase in value of WPP's shares since then.

The new deadline falls three days after the European Commission is expected to deliver its verdict on its investigation into the deal.

In reaction to Friday's development TNS put out its statement about the meeting between Brydon and Sorrell, saying: "The board of TNS continues to believe that the WPP offer fails to represent fair value for TNS. However, the board recognises that the current long period of uncertainty is not in the interests of TNS shareholders, employees and clients.

"TNS is disappointed that WPP has declined to enter into a dialogue with TNS regarding the benefits of a recommendation. If a recommendable offer were to be forthcoming from WPP, then TNS' board and management would commit to cooperate with WPP to ensure a successful transition to WPP ownership.

"In a business founded on employees with strong personal and client relationships, the board believes that such a smooth transition is in the interests of employees, clients and the value of the ongoing business.  

"In the absence of an increased offer from WPP, the board of TNS continues to recommend that TNS shareholders reject the WPP offer."

This morning WPP shares were trading down 12.5p or 2.2%) to 545p. TNS shares were down 3.25p or 1.2%) to 271.25p.

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