WPP and Providence launch £350m bid for Chime Communications

A consortium of WPP and American private equity firm Providence has launched a bid to buy Chime Communications for around £350m.

Sir Martin Sorrell: The WPP CEO is targeting a Chime acquisition
Sir Martin Sorrell: The WPP CEO is targeting a Chime acquisition

In a statement to the stock market this morning, Chime confirmed that it is in "advanced discussions" about a sale at 365p per share plus an interim dividend for the current year of 2.53p per share.

The consortium has until 5pm on 26 August to either announce a firm intention to acquire Chime or back away from the bid.

The statement added: "An independent committee of the board of Chime has been convened who are engaged in discussions with the consortium. There can be no certainty that the consortium will proceed to make an offer for Chime. A further announcement will be made in due course."

Chime's PR portfolio includes agencies such as Good Relations, Team Spirit and Harvard, while WPP owns PR agencies including Finsbury, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Cohn & Wolfe, Burson-Marsteller and Ogilvy.

WPP currently owns an approximately 20 per cent stake in Chime.

Sky points to sources that suggest Providence is keen to retain Chime’s executive team to lead the company once the takeover completes.

It follows an eventful period for Chime, which earlier this year announced a reorganisation that saw the group scrap its standalone PR division. It follows full-year profit growth of over 10 per cent. Good Relations chair Jackie Brock-Doyle told PRWeek at the time she had "big, bold and brave" plans for global expansion at the agency.

Chime has some very high profile figures in its ranks, including former Olympian Lord Coe, who chairs its sports-marketing firm CSM, and more recently London mayoral candidate Tessa Jowell, who earlier this month was named non-executive chairman of Chime Specialist Group.

In a trading update in May, Chime said it expected full-year results to be "below expectations" due to delays in two major international contract negotiations.

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