Whither Tempus?

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[london] WPP Group is poised to win the battle to acquire U.K.-based Tempus Group, but there are questions as to whether the deal will go through. Havas Advertising withdrew its rival $600 million offer Sept. 21, citing an uncertain economic outlook. Tempus management recommended shareholders accept WPP's $630 million bid. Shares in WPP rose after the announcement, while Tempus shares plummeted, indicating investor concerns that WPP would also withdraw its offer. If it did, WPP would not be able to bid for Tempus again for a year under U.K. takeover rules. WPP's offer is subject to approval by 90% of Tempus shareholders as well as U.K. regulators, and could be withdrawn if there is a "material adverse change" in market conditions.

WPP, parent to MindShare and the Media Edge, owns 25% of Tempus, parent of the CIA media agency. Tempus management holds another 25%. The bid's collapse leaves Havas with the challenge of building a global presence for its media arm, which is strong in Spanish-speaking countries but small in the U.S. and nonexistent in Asia and parts of Europe.

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