German billionaire Guenter Herz is believed to be backing market researcher GfK in its bid for rival Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS), which fought off a fourth approach from Sir Martin Sorrel’s advertising giant WPP earlier in the week.
Herz, 68, is estimated to be worth $2.3bn (£1.15bn). He and his sister Daniela own Hamburg-based private equity firm Mayfair, through which they hold a 27 per cent stake in Puma.
Mayfair yesterday declined to comment on whether Herz was involved, adding that Herz himself never comments on market rumours.
In a statement GfK stressed there was no certainty an offer would be made for TNS. Meanwhile, TNS’s largest shareholder Fidelity has sold 10.7m shares at an average of 272p. This effectively reduces their 10.3 per cent stake by 20 per cent to 8.65 per cent.
Fidelity is also the second-largest investor in GfK. “It could either mean that Fidelity believes that the deal will fall through or it simply could profit taking on shares that were bought at a much lower price. It’s probably a combination of the two,” Charles Stanley analyst Sam Hart told CityA.M.
TNS shares closed 0.25p higher to 274.75p. WPP’s offered valued TNS at around 260p a share, while GfK’s deal is expected to be close to 260p.