June 25: Advertising Age reports Grey Global Group has hired Goldman Sachs to sell the company, triggering a scramble that reportedly includes Publicis Groupe,
WPP Group and Japanese giant Dentsu.
July 13: Publicis Groupe Chairman Maurice Levy signals Publicis' withdrawal as a potential buyer, but leaves open the door to acquire parts of Grey if they became available.
July 19: Ad Age reports that private-equity firm Hellman & Friedman has shown interest.
July 20: Grey Global Group confirms it hired Goldman Sachs & Co. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. to assist it "in exploring alternatives focused on enhancing shareholder value." A statement says Grey management "does not intend to pursue a sale of individual business units."
Aug. 10: Regulatory filings reveal one of Grey Global Group's biggest investors, Brookside Capital Partners, unloaded about half its stock, cashing in profits rather than waiting for a sale. Brookside Capital had been Grey's third-largest shareholder, behind Chicago money manager Ariel Capital Management and Grey's chairman-CEO, Ed Meyer.
Sept. 8: Grey bids are due at 3 p.m. New York time. WPP opens with a bid over $900 a share. At 11 a.m., Havas' board approves the recommendation to submit a bid. Havas enters cash bid of $930. Vincent Bollore, a French financier who owns more than 5% of Havas, reportedly is opposed.
Sept. 9: Hellman & Friedman raises its $910 all-cash bid for Grey to $940-$950.
Sept. 11: Grey's four-member board meets at 9:30 a.m. in New York to weigh offers. At 2 p.m. WPP receives the news that its bid was accepted. WPP's finance director, Paul Richardson, signs the contract that evening.
Sept. 13: WPP announces it will acquire Grey for $1,005 per share, or $1.52 billion, in cash and stock, based on WPP's share price Sept. 10.