British advertising giant WPP today emerged as the winning bidder in the hotly-contested auction of US-based rival Grey Global.
WPP is thought to have agreed a deal worth around $1.3bn (€1.9bn) for Grey, which is among the world’s top-ten communications companies with blue-chip clients including consumer group Procter & Gamble.
London-based WPP – headed by Sir Martin Sorrell – confirmed that it had “reached agreement” with the board of Grey but said further details on the recommended offer would not be disclosed until tomorrow.
It is believed to have beaten off competition from French rival Havas and venture capital groups Hellman & Friedman and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.
The move is the latest in a string of major acquisitions by the world’s second largest advertising and public relations firm. Others have included Oglivy & Mather and Cordiant Communications, taking WPP’s headcount to more than 70,000.
The company’s clients include American Express, Ford, IBM and Unilever, while today’s deal should add Nokia and Warner Bros from Grey Global’s client base.
Last month WPP announced half-year revenues in excess of £2bn (€2.9bn) for the first time – helping profits to rise by 16% to £234.7m (€344.4m). It already generates around 40% of its business from North America.