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(April 19, 2001) -- The acquisition of True North will cost Interpublic Group of Cos. a hefty $2.34 billion and put an end to three years of True North's maneuvering among five different companies, according to documents filed today with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In a registration statement for the 67.7 million shares of stock involved in the stock swap transaction, Interpublic reveals the deal will close between May 18, when a 60-day antitrust review period expires, and Sept. 14, the deadline set in the contract between the companies.

However, the deadline can be extended until Dec. 13 if the regulatory and shareholder approvals processes are not completed.

The filing details a byzantine series of discussions by True North with four unidentified suitors over a two-year period, including discussions in 1999 between True North management and a private equity firm about taking the agency private in a management buyout. Those discussions were shelved in September 1999, due to concerns about the debt load and growth targets that would be required to make it work, according to the filing. -- Mercedes Cardona

Copyright April 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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