Sorrell presses ahead with Tempus bid but Vinci reviews TBI options

Hostile Bids
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The Independent Online

WPP Group, the advertising and marketing services giant, yesterday waded into the market to buy stock in Tempus Group, the media buying firm, raising its stake to 26 per cent, sources said.

WPP actively bought Tempus shares, which saw unusually heavy volume of 5.3 million yesterday, the sources said. Holders of Tempus stock were keen to sell and WPP brokers acquired 2.8 million shares at 555p each, on the advertising agency's behalf.

Prior to the trades being recorded on the exchange, Sir Martin Sorrell, WPP's chief executive, reiterated his determination to buy Tempus. "Our offer is there. It's early days," he said.

The increase in WPP's stake, to around 26 per cent from 22 per cent, will dampen speculation that the company would abandon its £437m cash bid in the wake of last week's terrorist attacks in the US.

However, Vinci, the French construction group, which has made a hostile 90p-a-share bid for the airports operator TBI, is examining closely whether the attacks have had a material impact on the UK company's business, sources said.

Today, Havas is scheduled to report its latest offer acceptance figures, which are not expected to show much uplift from the 29.2 per cent reported earlier. But a source close to the French group said the battle was far from over. "They have plenty of time to respond," the source said.

Tempus, led by Chris Ingram, the chairman, and senior executives, which together own 25 per cent of the company, irrevocably pledged to support the French group's offer – 80 per cent of which is in stock.

As Havas stock has crumbled along with other advertising groups in the past week, the value of the bid to Tempus directors has fallen by about 25 per cent.

Tempus stock closed down 8.5p at 555p – the same price as WPP's rival £437m offer.

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