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(Sept. 5, 2001) BRUSSELS -- The European Commission (EC) gave the go-ahead today for the proposed acquisition of U.K. Tempus Group by French advertising network Havas Advertising.

The decision comes a day after Havas announced that it was extending its offer for the media buying and planning specialist that is also being wooed by WPP Group, which made a counteroffer Aug. 20. Tempus is still holding discussions with each bidder.

The EC has assessed the impact of the proposed deal on the markets for media buying services and marketing communication services, including advertising, in all countries of the European Economic Area, and in a written statement said it had no competition concerns with the acquisition.

The deal would increase Havas's market share in the European Union to 10% for media buying services. The three markets in which the combined company would have the biggest market share are France, Spain and Portugal, where the EC estimated its share at between 15% and 25%.

"In all these countries, the merged group will still face significant competition from a number of other agencies," the Commission concluded.

For marketing communications services, the merged entity will have market shares well below 15% whether the scope of competition is across the European Union or national, the EC said.

Based in Paris, with a network of more than 300 agencies across 65 markets, Havas provides marketing communication services including general advertising, direct marketing, media planning and media buying.

Headquartered in London, Tempus, a marketing and media communications group, has almost 100 offices in 29 countries. The bulk of Tempus' turnover comes from media buying services. -- Paul Meller

Copyright September 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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