WPP Gets Tempus Acceptances

NEW YORK–In its bid to take over media buying and planning network Tempus Group, WPP Group exceeded the requirement of getting 90 percent acceptances from Tempus shareholders; but the British holding company is still putting off its final decision to buy. In response to its purchase bid of $629 million, WPP, which owns MindShare and The Media Edge, received 93.9 percent acceptances from Tempus shareholders, WPP said Tuesday.

According to the takeover rules, WPP had to have at least 90 percent of Tempus shareholders’ acceptances by October 1. Despite reaching beyond that amount, WPP has added a note of caution to its intentions by requesting that its offer be extended until October 15, giving WPP time to determine whether or not Tempus’s worth has diminished since the September 11 terrorist attacks, which has had a worsening effect throughout the world economy.

“He’s not leaning one way or the other at this moment,” a source close to the deal said of WPP CEO Martin Sorrell, who has been speculated as having a change of heart regarding the purchase of Tempus. “He wants the deal to go through, but it’s not essential. He wants to be certain that this is the right thing for WPP now. That posture is going to apply right through to the closing of the deal.”

Despite a climate indicating a pervasive ad recession, WPP had plowed full steam ahead to buy Tempus shortly after French holding company Havas announced its friendly takeover bid of $610 million for Tempus in August. Havas pulled out of the takeover battle two weeks ago, citing a deteriorating ad market that prevented it from matching WPP’s offer for Tempus.

While WPP’s statement that the deal is subject to takeover regulations governing possible antitrust violations, which observers said shouldn’t be a problem, British law allows the company to rescind its offer if there’s any “material adverse changes” in Tempus’s value.