Poster specialist Portland Outdoor has been forced to halt its acquisition of rival specialist Poster Publicity following instructions from shareholder WPP.
WPP senior management is angry about the lack of consultation it received from Portland chairman Dennis Sullivan before the deal was announced in October. WPP feels the asking price of about £3m is too high.
The two companies, which have been negotiating since June last year, were expected to complete the deal by January 20, and had already integrated their buying departments.
Competitive information on deals with poster contractors is understood to have been shared between the two companies.
The failure of the deal will put PPL back on the market. When the sale was revealed last autumn, the company said it needed an agency network to develop international business (MW November 4).
Chairman David Wade-Jones is also known to want to sell his shareholding and retire from the firm.
PPL was talking to Carat subsidiary Harrison Salinson and the Media Business Group before the Portland negotiations were confirmed.
WPP owns 27 per cent of Portland through its subsidiary J Walter Thompson. The other shareholders are Collett Dickenson Pearce, with 27 per cent, and Portland management, with 46 per cent. JWT and CDP are known to vote together on all issues.