WPP Cites New Info to Bolster Pullout from Tempus

NEW YORK–British holding company WPP Group is citing new information gleaned from Tempus’s financial statements that bolsters WPP’s case for withdrawing its purchase offer for that company.

And while the European Commission ruled that a WPP takeover of the media services network would not violate antitrust laws, WPP sought a further extension on its $629 million bid, which expired on Monday, to be continued through the period ending October 29.

Since Tempus’ value has plummeted after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, WPP has cited material adverse changes in the company’s value, which would allow WPP to withdraw its offer–an offer that shareholders and market watchers now deem too steep.

Financial analysts have characterized WPP’s MAC challenge as dubious.

Although WPP refused to state exactly what the new information they found is that bolsters their MAC challenge, sources said that in documents submitted to the Takeover Panel–the British governing body that decides mergers and acquisitions–Tempus’s “last year profits were significantly lower than previously announced.” The sources declined to cite an exact figure.

A source familiar with the Takeover Panel decision making process says that a ruling could come in a few days and that that the board wants to ensure each side gets a chance to make its case as completely as possible and without an imposed time frame.

Also, WPP and Tempus both have the right to appeal the decision of the panel’s board for a final hearing by the panel’s executive committee.

Another source described WPP’s move as a bluff. “Everything was put on the table within the last two months. There are no surprises.”