Despite Being Rebuffed By TNS, WPP Continues To Hold On; Higher Offer Expected

This story was written by David Kaplan.
Although WPP Group's $1.9 billion offer to acquire audience researcher Taylor Nelson Sofres was rejected over the the weekend, the UK ad holding firm is still pressing the TNS' board for more talks, the Guardian reported. Sir Martin Sorrell, WPP's CEO, made the bid for TNS shortly after the researcher announce plans to merge with German audience measurement company GfK. The deal with GfK is valued at 100 million ($154 million) and would create the globe's second-largest audience measurement firm behind Nielsen.

TNS said it rejected WPP's offer because it believed it was "not in shareholders' interests" and that the bid undervalued the company. WPP has not said whether it will come back with a higher offer. A WPP spokesman said that the company has asked the board to provide more more specifics on its decision, which Sorrell has characterized as "cavalier." In turn, TNS shot back, through a spokesman: "It doesn't take long to reject a derisory offer."

-- Reuters: Analysts seem to agree that WPP's move is merely "opportunistic," contending that the ad holding company was spurred to disrupt TNS' merger with GfK, as a larger company with a blocking shareholder would ultimately make it more difficult to buy. Therefore, analysts expect WPP to come back with a higher offer. 

By David Kaplan