Chess Promoter Takes CCG Stake

NEW YORK The Cordiant Communica-
tions Group saga took an unexpected twist on Tuesday, when it was revealed that a Syrian chess promoter has taken a 10.75 percent stake in the troubled holding company.

Nahed Ojjeh, who supports chess tournaments globally, amassed her investment in the company from June 10 to July 4, according to a letter CCG received from her lawyers on Tuesday. The news comes just eight days before CCG’s stock is due to be delisted from the London Stock Exchange in preparation of WPP Group’s proposed acquisition of the British company.

The deal is subject to shareholder approval on July 23. CCG said that the letter confirmed that Ojjeh, a Paris resident, “has not had any contact at this time with Active Value,” CCG’s largest shareholder and a vocal opponent of WPP’s bid.

Active Value last week increased its stake in CCG to 28.7 percent, well above the 25 percent needed to block an acquisition. The London fund cannot go above 29.99 percent without triggering a full bid for CCG. Were it to do so, it would have to offer the highest price it paid during the past year, or about $1.25 per share, a huge premium compared to the 6 cents that CCG shares closed at on Tuesday.

Ojjeh and Active Value have not divulged their reasons for buying the stock. However, CCG said in the statement that it “understands from this letter that [Ojjeh] will be making full disclosures of her interests and dealings in the company.” It also said that Ojjeh’s interest in CCG is held in her name, though members of her immediate family and through an offshore entity controlled by her. None of the parties could be immediately reached.