Sorrell has approached the group of private equity firms that have offered $8.8 billion to acquire VNU, and which are expected to break it up and sell off the pieces, Reuters reported Tuesday morning. The report did not say what VNU assets Sorrell is most interested in, but Nielsen Media Research is a good bet. WPP's AGB unit currently has a joint venture with Nielsen for TV ratings outside the U.S., and the British ad agency chief may hope to fold Nielsen's U.S. TV operations into that.
On the other hand, WPP has also been building its marketing research holdings, and signaled its desire to do more vis a vis its expression of interest in Aegis' Synovate unit, indicating that VNU's ACNielsen operations might also be a good fit.
Reuters reported that a WPP spokesman denied the company was in discussions with the buyout firms.