WPP Goes Hostile for TNS, With Counter-Offer from GfK
German market research group GfK is putting together a cash offer for rival firm TNS (Taylor Nelson Sofres), in response to a hostile bid from Martin Sorrell's WPP launched yesterday. WPP has offered Â£1.1 billion ($2.1 billion), after previous offers were snubbed by the company's board. In response, GfK has issued a release stating it is terminating its own proposed merger with TNS, which has been in discussion since April, and will pursue "a proposal which would involve an alternative all-cash offer being made" with anonymous financial backing. Although talks are still in early stages, GfK says it has received "strong indications of interest in such a transaction." WPP made a significant step into the online ad arena with its acquisition of 24/7 Real Media last year, and TNS's online media research capabilities could complement 24/7's range of digital ad offerings, which include search marketing and a display ad network. While some have suggested that the $2.1 billion price tag overvalues TNS in such a cautious financial climate, others believe market research will remain relatively healthy in an economic slump, fuelled by the concerns of nervous advertisers looking to validate campaign decisions.