3 Suitors Eye Cordiant

NEW YORK Grey Global Group and WPP Group are carrying out due diligence regarding bids for all or parts of troubled Cordiant Communications Group, sources said.

Publicis Groupe also remains interested in doing a deal with the British holding company, according to sources.

CCG, which put the entire company on the block last month after losing its Allied Domecq business, held a special board meeting today to evaluate offers in the hopes of brokering a deal by next Monday, sources said.

Officials with CCG, which has extended its financing arrangements with its lenders to July 15, didn’t return calls.

“CCG ceased long ago to be a strategic acquisition target,” said Simon Lapthorne, an analyst with Old Mutual in London. “It’s opportunistic now.”

Grey Global Group chairman, president and CEO Ed Meyer is in London this week undertaking due diligence, according to sources. Sources said the New York-based holding commpany is putting a deal together with Cerberus Capital Management, a New York-based hedge fund that has been buying much of CCG’s debt at a discount. Grey declined comment.

WPP is interested in acquiring CCG marketing services group 141 Worldwide, specialty unit Healthworld and some operations in Asia, Germany and Brazil, sources said. Last month, WPP, which earlier this year was said to eyeing CCG’s 77 percent stake in German network Scholz & Friends, was sizing up CCG or its parts [Adweek, May 5], sources said. Since the two companies are headquartered in the U.K., there would be fewer legal hurdles, sources said. WPP could not be reached.

Publicis is putting together a pre-packaged administration deal, sources said. Analysts have pegged the French holding company may have an advantage in the process, since it already has ties to CCG through a joint venture in Zenith Optimedia. Publicis could not be reached.

CCG shares closed on the London Stock Exchange today at 54 cents, up 3 percent, on news of WPP’s interest.