Havas makes cash bid for Lopex

HAVAS ADVERTISING, the sixth biggest marketing and advertising group in the world, yesterday made a pounds 67m all cash bid for Lopex, the communications group, trouncing a hostile offer from Incepta, the public relations outfit.

Jean-Michel Carlo, vice president, said Havas had been looking at Lopex before the Incepta bid which acted as a catalyst for yesterday's offer. The offer has won acceptance from holders of more than 24 per cent of the shares in addition to the Lopex board. Havas will pay 120p for each Lopex share, a 54 per cent premium on 1 July close, the day before Incepta's bid.

"Our UK strategy is part of our worldwide strategy. Our three-year plan, announced six months ago, is to double the size of the company," he said.

In a statement, Alain de Pouzilhac, chairman and chief executive of Havas Advertising, said: "Havas Advertising's strategy is to be one of the top five marketing and communications groups worldwide by 2001. We regard the acquisition of Lopex as a key element in our UK expansion strategy."

Lopex owns a number of communications companies, including PR group Grayling, whose clients include the saucepan maker Le Creuset, the BBC and Pedigree Petfoods.

Analysts said they doubted that Incepta, owner of the Citigate and Dewe Rogerson public relations agencies, could come back with a higher offer. As it is, Incepta, which has built up a 26 per cent stake in the group over the past two years at an average price believed to be around 37p a share, stands to make a pounds 12.2m profit if it agrees to the deal.

Incepta said in a statement that it was "considering its position" and would make an announcement in due course.

Havas, which is French-owned, numbers among its existing UK interests WCRS, the advertising agency, PR company Biss Lancaster and Terence Conran's old company Conran Design.

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