WPP extends deadline for Tempus Group deal

WPP is playing for time by extending the offer period for its

£437 million takeover bid for Tempus Group after receiving a

majority vote in favour of the deal from Tempus shareholders.

Sir Martin Sorrell, WPP's chief executive, has until 15 October to try

to extricate the group from the now costly bid, should he want to.

However, it is thought Sorrell is still keen to add another media

network to WPP's empire, and with Aegis considered too expensive, his

options are limited.

Almost 94 per cent of Tempus' shareholders this week voted for WPP's

555p per share bid - a significantly higher price than the existing

trading figure of around 490p.

Poor results reported by Tempus last week revealing a 3 per cent fall in

profits to £10.2 million have further fuelled speculation that

Sorrell will look for a way out of the deal.

The deal still needs to be vetted by the anti-competition


Lorna Tilbian, a media analyst at Numis, commented: "This may give

Sorrell more chance to withdraw if he chooses."

The "no material adverse change" clause could provide an exit route if

WPP argues that the market has deteriorated since it made its offer

because of the existing downturn in the media market. However, WPP may

have blocked this get-out route by buying Tempus shares after the

terrorist attacks on the US. The move showed Sorrell to be reasserting

his faith in the value of Tempus, despite the fall in confidence of

media stocks in the aftermath of 11 September.

Bob Willott, the editor of Marketing Services Financial Intelligence,

said he expects the deal to go ahead, but added: "WPP is paying too high

a price and it's not a good time to pay excessive prices for new


The future of Chris Ingram, Tempus' chief executive, still remains


Despite his well-known antipathy to Sorrell, Ingram, who owns about 15

per cent of Tempus, was obliged to recommend shareholders accept the WPP


However, insiders said that Ingram was still non-committal as to whether

he would accept a senior position within WPP's media offering.


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