The joint effort offers both groups a chance to compete for an acquisition that neither could afford on its own.
A BDDP management group-including Wells Rich Greene BDDP Chairman-CEO Frank Assumma and President Paula Forman, as well as top French executives-has been trying to take control of BDDP since it began seeking a buyer in the spring. Investment-community observers have expressed doubts that management could find financing to support a buyout.
A THIRD ENTITY
London-based GGT would help in that regard, though BDDP executives say another financing entity is participating in the bid as well.
Publicly traded GGT already owns two U.S. agencies, GSD&M, Austin, Texas, and Martin/
Williams, Minneapolis. It has been hunting for a third, preferably on the East or West Coast, and took a look at N.W. Ayer & Partners, New York, earlier this year. Its interest in BDDP has developed in the past month.
One of the obstacles GGT faced in pursuing Ayer was Procter & Gamble Co.'s hesitancy to enlarge its agency roster. Ayer is a P&G shop, and the marketer preferred to see it merge with another roster agency. Ayer is in the process of doing just that with D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles.
GGT could face the same obstacle with BDDP, since WRG also is a P&G agency. However, the partnership with current management could ease some of P&G's concern.
UNABLE TO GO IT ALONE
Analysts also say they doubt GGT could afford to buy BDDP on its own.
The world's 15th-largest agency group and No. 3 in France, BDDP is controlled now by a group of investors led by Walter Butler, as well as several European banks. Goldman, Sachs & Co., London, has been helping Mr. Butler shop the company, with an asking price of about $200 million.
WPP Group made an offer well below that about two months ago. Other groups believed to have made a bid or to have considered one include Grey Advertising, New York, and Cordiant, London-both on P&G's roster (AA, July 22).
Mr. Butler and his fellow investors studied bids last week; executives familiar with the situation said the BDDP investors wanted to make a decision soon.