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(Aug. 21, 2001) LONDON -- The morning after WPP Group made an unsolicited counteroffer to Havas Advertising's original bid to buy media specialist Tempus Group, Havas did not respond with a higher offer.

In a statement today accompanying its scheduled half-year revenue results, the French holding company said it was still considering its position.

Havas notified the London Stock Exchange today that it held 29.2% of Tempus' outstanding shares, which includes 25.6% of Tempus shares, including those pledged by Tempus management, and another 3.6% it bought on the open market.

According to Havas, it "owns, controls, has received valid acceptances or irrevocable undertakings to accept the Offer totaling 22,074,511 Tempus Shares, representing in aggregate approximately 29.2% of Tempus' issued share capital."

Meanwhile, Havas Chairman-CEO Alain de Pouzilhac said his group's bid for the media buying specialist poses no client conflicts.

The "only possible" conflict, he said during a conference call today, was between DaimlerChrysler and Peugeot-Citroen. In 1999, Tempus' CIA won the global DaimlerChrysler account except for the U.S. and German markets, while various Havas units work for Peugeot-Citroen.

Mr. de Pouzilhac said he has spoken with officials at the French automaker and that they were "very enthusiastic" about the plans and didn't see any problem. He said there wasn't a conflict because Peugeot-Citroen doesn't operate in the U.S. market and because CIA doesn't handle the business in DaimlerChrysler's home German market.

He then pointed out that Ford Motor Co. is a major client of a number of WPP units and is a direct competitor of DaimlerChrysler.

Asked if Havas' existing media buying and planning specialist MPG has a viable strategy if its bid for Tempus falls through, Mr. de Pouzilhac said he is "totally convinced" it can operate on its own. "We have many opportunities to develop MPG in different parts of the world."

Havas announced revenue estimated at $1 billion for the first half of 2001, an organic growth of 5.5% from the first half of 2000, when adjusted for currency fluctuations and acquisitions. Billings were at $6.76 billion. -- Bill Britt

Copyright August 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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