LOS ANGELES-With WPP Group's acquisition of the Tempus Group finally resolved, executives from Tempus' CIA and WPP's The Media Edge will meet face-to-face in London this week. Their mission: create a new global media network.
The entity will retain the CIA brand name, a strong asset, particularly in Europe (WPP has code-named the new network TME/CIA). It will be built on a blueprint first proposed when WPP launched its bid in August. And it will be arguably the most geographically balanced of any media network. The complementary nature of CIA and TME around the world, in fact, was the one point everyone has agreed on since the saga began this summer, when first Havas and then WPP bid for Tempus.
Havas withdrew its bid after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, which also prompted WPP chairman Sir Martin Sorrell to attempt to back out. Last week he was denied that option by the Takeover Panel, the British entity that oversees corporate acquisitions, and the deal went forward.
TME/CIA will combine CIA's strength in Europe-where it commands 8 percent market share-with TME's market strength in the U.S. and Canada, where it is a top-five shop. It will fill in Latin America, where CIA does not have a presence. In Asia, both marriage partners have moderate but successful operations that will be combined. In addition, CIA's Internet entity Outrider will be absorbed by TME's high-tech unit, The Digital Edge.
TME/CIA will be run by two executives who know each other well, CIA's U.S. leader Charles Courtier, who will be TME/CIA chairman, and CIA's CEO, Mainardo de Nardis, who will have the same title at TME/CIA. The infusion of Tempus' entrepreneurial culture into the full-service philosophy of TME could be a less tangible but significant benefit, executives at both shops agreed. But, "the downside is that CIA culture is not the same everywhere because the company came together by buying business in country after country."
Under the WPP plan, a new holding company called GME would house both TME/ CIA and WPP's other global media network, MindShare. In that scenario, a big question mark is the role of Tempus chairman Chris Ingram, a sometimes bitter business rival of Sorrell's.
Under the original proposal, Ingram is to co-chair GME with TME's current worldwide chairman Beth Gordon, but he is unlikely to agree to that, sources said. However, he has committed to remaining with the company until the integration of Tempus into WPP is completed. With estimates of Ingram's take from the deal ranging from $50- 90 million, he'll have plenty of options.
WPP will now command a worldwide market share of 21 percent, according to French research firm RECMA. That's just behind leader IPG at 23 percent. The third member of the Big Three, Omnicom, trails with 13 percent worldwide media-billings market share. WPP will now be the largest media buyer in Europe, with more than $12 billion in total billings, just ahead of IPG's $11 billion-plus. In the U.S., WPP would have just under $13 billion, second only to IPG at more than $18 billion.
"This brings WPP [now with worldwide billings of about $30 billion], a lot closer to [Interpublic Group's $40 billion negotiating unit] Magna Global," said David Doft, senior analyst for ABN AMRO in New York. "It makes it harder for IPG to go out there and argue that their scale and clout in negotiating media prices is that much better than WPP."
=-with David Kaplan