WPP announcement on Y&R buy is imminent

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WPP Group's takeover of Young & Rubicam is expected to be announced as soon as today, said executives close to the situation. As of late May 8, a number of legal formalities hadn't been resolved, but executives close to both agencies said the takeover was all but a done deal. London-based WPP agreed in principle to acquire New York-based Y&R for about $5.7 billion, said executives close to the situation. A WPP/Y&R combination would create the world's largest advertising company, with worldwide revenue of $6.7 billion.

French agency network Publicis--also cited as a suitor for Y&R--said May 8 it had declined an invitation to make an offer for the U.S. company.Publicis Chairman-CEO Maurice Levy said both his Paris-based company and WPP had supporters within Y&R and he didn't want to get involved in a bidding war. "There were people in favor of the WPP deal and people in favor of the Publicis deal," Mr. Levy said. "We didn't want an escalation of bids. We needed to be very clear that the preferred deal was ours. We wanted exclusive rights of negotiation."

WPP's May 5 announcement to the London Stock Exchange that talks with Y&R had resumed, just days after it announced discussions had broken down, renewed pressure on Publicis to make a decision.

Copyright May 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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