GfK won’t pursue TNS


GfK says it has not been able to find financing on satisfactory terms to make a buyout bid for TNS, so it is walking away. That leaves only WPP Group’s $2 billion hostile takeover bid in play, but TNS is still resisting, calling it inadequate.

To recap, knowing that Sir Martin Sorrell was seeking to make TNS part of his WPP Group empire, TNS cut a deal to merge as equals with GfK. But Sorrell didn’t go away and went directly to TNS’ shareholders with his hostile bid. The TNS-GfK merger deal disintegrated, with TNS hoping that its jilted would-be partner would come back and outbid Sorrell. That option now is dead and any hope that Nielsen would also enter the bidding has long since faded away.

WPP want to combine TNS with its own Kantar unit, creating the world’s second largest market research operation, after The Nielsen Company. It is unlikely that Sorrell will raise his bid, since it appears certain there will be no other bidder. Even so, TNS insists it is worth more.

“WPP is being opportunistic and is seeking to acquire this at a value lower than what should be paid,” said TNS CEO David Lowden.

WPP’s tender offer of 173 pence (UK) in cash and 0.1889 of a WPP share for each share of TNS is scheduled to close tomorrow, but could be extended.