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A Real-Life Ad Drama: TNS Spurning WPP

In what has become an international takeover feud, as soon as Martin Sorrell and his WPP Group announced a hostile bid for market research firm TNS Wednesday, rival suitor GfK Group struck back. GfK withdrew its proposed no-premium merger bid, which had already been accepted by the TNS board, to work on an alternative, all-cash bid to counter WPP.

WPP's unsolicited cash-and-stock offer valued TNS at $2.18 billion, and was widely seen as more valuable than the proposed all-stock deal between GfK and TNS. Nonetheless TNS, which already rejected WPP three times, asked shareholders to spurn the latest WPP offer.

GfK says it is now "actively pursuing an alternative all-cash offer with the involvement of a potential source of equity and equity-related financing." RiskMetrics, a proxy advisory firm, had urged TNS shareholders against the initial GfK deal, and analysts are waiting to see this next bid. Stay tuned.

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