Active Value continues efforts

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[London] Despite repeated failures, largest shareholder Active Value keeps trying to torpedo WPP Group's bid for Cordiant Communications Group. Active Value's attempt to sack Cordiant's board of directors and install new management hit the rocks last week when Richard Wheatly and Stephen Davidson, the proposed chairman and finance director, backed out. Active Value has also been rebuffed by Publicis Groupe's Chairman-CEO Maurice Levy, who turned down Active Value's plea to join a plan to effect a change of control at Cordiant, even though doing so could have let Publicis buy Cordiant's 25% stake in ZenithOptimedia Group at a knock-down price. Active Value said in a statement that it "continues to look at ways in which the position can be improved for [Cordiant] shareholders" and promised a future announcement. Active Value can use its 28.75% stake in Cordiant to block WPP's bid at Cordiant's July 23 shareholders meeting, although in that case WPP would likely put Cordiant into administration and shareholders would get no money. For Cordiant to end up in any hands other than WPP's, prospective purchasers would either have to pay a significant premium on any individual units acquired or repay Cordiant's entire debt, now owned by WPP, to buy the whole group. Yet Active Value still plans to hold its own meeting with other Cordiant shareholders on July 23, asking them to vote for a new board of directors and refinancing.
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