NEW YORK WPP Group said today that it would proceed with its $1.9 billion acquisition of market research firm Taylor Nelson Sofres now that shareholders representing 82 percent of outstanding shares have agreed to the buyout. The offer, WPP declared, was now "unconditional."
WPP said that its offer would be extended until Oct. 22 so that shareholders who have not yet agreed to the sale can do so. The holding company also said it would provide notice to TNS shareholders shortly that TNS stock would be delisted from market exchanges, a move that would "significantly reduce the value" of any shares remaining uncommitted to the WPP offer, the holding company said.
WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell, said in a statement, "We are delighted to be a step closer to welcoming such a fine company with strong people, clients and brands that will enhance our client offering."
WPP has been pursuing TNS since April when the market research company announced a merger with German research firm GfK. WPP made three counterproposals for TNS, all of which were rejected by the TNS board of directors. On July 9, WPP went hostile with a takeover bid it put directly to shareholders.
Immediately after the hostile bid, TNS and GfK called off their friendly merger so that GfK could look for partners in order to pursue a higher bid than WPP made. But by late August GfK had failed to find partners and exited the process.
The TNS board, however, continued to reject the WPP offer as too low, until earlier this week when it became clear that at least 75 percent of TNS shares would be tendered to WPP and that the deal would go through.