Investment banks take 10% stake in Havas

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The Independent Online

City dealers have begun taking sides in the battle for Tempus, the media buying group subject to rival takeover approaches from WPP and Havas Advertising of France.

Credit Suisse First Boston and Morgan Grenfell yesterday revealed that between them they hold around 10.6 per cent of Tempus stock, up from 6 per cent. Though each bank has sold some shares to book profits on earlier transactions, both have significant "long" positions. They are, in effect, wagering that the bidding for Tempus has some way to go.

SG Securities, however, a French investment bank that has advised Havas on its 1bn euro (£633m) in debt issuance, has sold almost £9m in Tempus stock for 585p to 588p per share. That implies SG believes a deal for Tempus will not be much higher than WPP's unsolicited 555p offer, worth £437m, tendered on Monday.

All eyes are glued on Havas to see if Alain de Pouzilhac, its chief executive, raises his 541p-a-share offer, which values Tempus at £425m. City analysts believe that he will up the ante, since Havas needs Tempus to survive in the fast-consolidating global advertising industry.

Havas has a about 29.2 per cent of Tempus stock pledged. WPP has a 22 per cent holding acquired before Havas swooped last month. Tempus stock closed up 3p at 586p.

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