WPP Extends TNS Deadline a 3rd Time

NEW YORK WPP Group today extended for a third time the deadline for acceptance of its nearly $2.2 billion offer to acquire research firm Taylor Nelson Sofres.

TNS management again urged shareholders to reject WPP’s cash and stock offer, which remains unchanged. The new deadline is Oct. 3.

Significantly more shareholders agreed to accept the offer since the last deadline extension two weeks ago. WPP said TNS shareholders representing nearly 34 percent of outstanding shares favor the deal, up from 11 percent two weeks ago.

TNS said the holding company’s proposal is too low given TNS’ strong financial performance in the first half of 2008 and its “leadership” position in its market sector. The WPP bid is also lacking, TNS said in a statement, given the “clear strategic direction the management team has established to continue to deliver growth and TNS’ significant investment in both globalizing its offering and expanding its online and digital measurement capabilities,” among other factors.

WPP said it “believes the offer provides a substantial premium for TNS share owners with both cash certainty and potential equity upside” from WPP shares.

Earlier this week the European Commission ruled that WPP must sell its Television Audience Measurement services unit if it wants to proceed with the planned takeover.