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
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
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
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
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.’