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(Aug. 16, 2001) -- Tempus Group confirmed today that the London-based media buying specialist is talking with WPP Group about a possible counterbid to Havas Advertising's $600 million offer.

With speculation growing about whether WPP would allow the Havas-Tempus deal to go through unchallenged, a frustrated Havas on Wednesday asked the U.K. Takeover Panel, via a phone call from Havas' adviser JP Morgan, to seek a clarification from WPP about its intentions.

Tempus issued the following statement today, possibly after prodding by the Takeover Panel: "In response to recent press speculation, and a movement in its share price, the board of Tempus Group confirms that following an approach from WPP Group, it is in discussions with WPP about a possible cash offer for the entire issued and to be issued share campital of Tempus not already owned by WPP."

Tempus's share price rose by 3.78% on Wednesday, from $8.20 to close at $8.52. Today, the stock opened at $8.81 but fell back to $8.52 by the close of trading.

"Last I heard, he never made a formal bid," said Tom Sassos, CEO of CIA Medianetwork in the U.S. "About three hours ago, [WPP Group Chief Executive Martin Sorrell] was talking about making a bid, throwing around numbers, but he didn't make one." -- Laurel Wentz and Richard Linnett

Copyright August 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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