WPP Says It Isn’t Preparing Bid to Take Over Interpublic Group

WPP Plc denied a U.K. newspaper’s report that the world’s largest advertising company may be preparing a $25 per share cash bid for Interpublic Group of Cos., the second-biggest U.S. ad company.

“WPP strongly refutes today’s story in the Daily Mail about an approach to Interpublic,” Richard Oldworth, a spokesman for WPP, said in a telephone interview. The Daily Mail cited market rumors for its report.

Since Publicis Groupe SA and Omnicom Group Inc. said in July they plan to merge, unseating WPP as the largest advertising network, questions have focused on how WPP -- which has held the top spot since the 2008 acquisition of Taylor Nelson Sofres Plc -- will respond as the industry consolidates. WPP has said it’s focused on small and mid-sized purchases in emerging markets and digital, and will spend as much as 400 million pounds ($642 million) this year to add digital-ad assets and operations in countries including Turkey, Brazil and China.

“I guess some analysts who’ve got big client bull positions in IPG or Havas would like us to see the headline of WPP buys IPG or WPP buys Havas, unlikely to happen,” WPP Chief Executive Officer Martin Sorrell said in September. “What is more likely to happen is that we focus as we’ve done post the POG announcement on small, medium-sized acquisitions,” referring to the future name Publicis Omnicom Group.

WPP shares rose 1.2 percent to 1,358 pence as of 9:58 a.m. London trading, valuing the company at 18.3 billion pounds.

WPP outperformed rivals in organic growth for the third quarter, with a 5 percent gain compared with 4.1 percent for New York-based Omnicom and 3.5 percent for Paris-based Publicis.

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