WHAT'S THE DEAL: Grey Global agreed in September to sell to WPP for $1.52 billion in cash and WPP stock. Risk: The value at closing would fall if WPP shares declined. Reward: gains if WPP rose. WPP stock has soared since the fall, hitting the highest point March 4 since 2001. The deal closes today; Grey Chairman-CEO Ed Meyer's timing was perfect. This is in contrast to the 2001 sale of True North Communications to Interpublic; as Interpublic shares slumped, the deal's value fell from announcement to closing. Interpublic stock given to True North shareholders has plunged since then. How the deals' values changed over time:
HIGH TIME: The AdMarket hit its highest point since late December, recovering early-year losses to show a 1.7% gain. For the week, 43 AdMarket issues were up; seven fell. Univision topped the charts on improved results. Havas hit its highest level since February 2004 as speculation grew on a possible takeover move by investor Vincent Bollore.
Grey Global Group fell 10.6%. The drop is no surprise. Grey holders had until March 3 to request cash, WPP stock or a mix in the sale to WPP Group, set to close today. WPP will buy half the shares for $1,005 cash and half for stock worth about $1,300; that's a blended value of $1,152 a share. The smart money asked for stock; anyone who bought shares March 4 probably will get mostly cash. Grey stock fell March 4 to $1,011 to reflect that.
Advertising Age and Bloomberg's AdMarket 50 index of 50 top publicly traded marketer, agency and media companies for the week ended March 4 based on stock trading data supplied by Bloomberg financial news service. All comparisons are vs. closing prices Feb. 28. Full data available on Bloomberg terminals under index BAAX.