WPP and Havas locked in stalemate over Tempus

WPP Group and Havas Advertising are engaged in a Mexican stand-off over the next move in the bid battle for Tempus, the media specialist company headed by Chris Ingram.

Havas is biding its time before lodging a further bid, which would have to top WPP’s counter offer, made on Monday, of 555p a share. Havas triggered the battle for Tempus, in which WPP owns a 22 per cent stake, by offering 541p a share on July 19 – a huge premium over the 360p price at the time. The new situation is destabilising for Tempus, as the bid timetable could – in theory – extend to Christmas time. Among other concerns, it must now prepare to publish its interim figures, which may cast a gloomy light over the company’s performance. Analysts are targeting a first-half, pre-tax profit of &£9m to &£10m, down on last year’s &£10.4m.

Behind the scenes, the three companies are thought to be working hard to break the deadlock – and perhaps to provide a solution linking the media interests of all three companies. WPP is keen to align its Media Edge operation with Tempus’s CIA network, but is also known to be an admirer of Havas’ Media Planning Group. MPG is a wholly owned subsidiary of Havas, but its founders Fernando Rodés and his father Leopoldo Rodés sit on the Havas board and own close to ten per cent of the French company’s shares.

Havas vice-president of communications Simon Gillham denies that any board director of Havas has made an approach to WPP. Havas chief executive Alain de Pouzilhac earlier declined to comment on whether Havas was in talks with WPP.

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