WPP Makes Formal Hostile-Takeover Bid for TNS

Latest Acquisition Attempt Values Market-Research Firm at $2.3 Billion

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- WPP Group today said it has made a formal hostile-takeover bid for market-research firm Taylor Nelson Sofres.

"WPP announces that the offer document containing the formal offer for the entire issued and to be issued share capital of TNS is being posted today," the U.K. agency holding company said in a statement. The bid values the company at $2.28 billion.

A spokesman for WPP said the full offer document was sent to TNS shareholders this evening and will be posted on the WPP website tomorrow. WPP is giving TNS shareholders until Aug. 29 to accept the offer

The holding company's last bid, its fifth, of $2.13 billion was rejected by the TNS board in early July. At that same time TNS called off a possible merger with German research firm GfK, which is still currently pursuing an all-cash offer for TNS.

After WPP's announcement today, GfK issued its own statement asking TNS investors to not make any decisions on the WPP offer while it continues to survey its own takeover bid.

"GfK is continuing to actively pursue an all-cash offer for TNS and discussions in relation to this possible offer are progressing positively," GfK said in a release. "GfK therefore urges TNS shareholders to take no action in relation to WPP's offer for TNS at this time. GfK reiterates that no assurance can be given that an offer will be made."

The acquisition of TNS would not only bring WPP Chief Executive Martin Sorrell one step closer to his goal of creating the largest marketing-services company in the world, it would also create the second-largest market research company in the world after Nielsen.
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