Flurry Of Filings, Stock Trading At IPG

Interpublic Group, following two weeks of relative calm after restating five years of results downward by $550 million, got busy again last week, with four federal filings and a flurry of high-volume stock trading that resulted in a new 52-week low.

Analysts attributed the voluminous trading to Tuesday’s offer of preferred stock to institutional investors—a one-day sale that’s expected to raise nearly $600 million. As many investors were selling as buying, with sellers concerned about stock dilution (525,000 new shares were issued, each convertible into another 70 shares) and buyers anticipating that IPG’s share price will rise, sources said. The stock closed Friday at $10.34 a share, up a penny for the day and down 72 cents from Monday’s opening price of $11.06.

IPG’s last filing, a proxy statement on Friday, set the table for its annual shareholders meeting on Nov. 14. The proxy revealed, among other things, that IPG co-chairman David Bell and McCann Erickson WorldGroup CEO John Dooner will be leaving the board. “We are now moving to a board made up solely of independent directors, other than the company’s chief executive officer,” said an IPG rep, referring to Michael Roth.

The proxy also includes the “maximize value resolution” proposed by shareholder Charles Miller to promptly sell the company to the highest bidder. In the proxy, IPG reiterated its opposition to the proposal, saying, “The board agrees that its primary obligation is to maximize long-term shareholder value. However, the board unanimously opposes the view that the way to maximize value is to put Interpublic up for sale in an auction process.”