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WPP and Providence launch takeover bid for Chime Communications

British marketing group Chime Communications has received a £350m takeover bid from Providence Equity Partners and rival WPP.

The company, which has Lord Coe as a director, confirmed the joint bid approach on Wednesday night. The bid consists of 365p per share, plus an interim dividend for the current year of 2.53p per share.

Chime’s board has recommended an offer for the company to be made to the London Stock Exchange today.

The London-based company, which was founded by Margaret Thatcher’s former PR guru Lord Bell, confirmed that an “independent committee of the board of Chime has been convened who are engaged in discussions with the consortium."

The takeover bid is being led by Providence, one of the world’s biggest buyout firms, with WPP, Chime’s FTSE-100 rival, backing the move and rolling over its 20 per cent stake. Providence is likely to retain Chime’s executive team to lead the company if the takeover completes.

Under the Takeover Code Providence Equity the pair have until August 26 to make a firm offer or walk away.

Chime, which also counts Lord Coe as executive chairman of its sports and entertainment division, has a mixed history with WPP stretching back more than a decade. In 2003 it sold 49 per cent of its HHCL advertising agency to WPP and in 2013 Chime objected to WPP’s purchase of JMI.

Chime announced pre-tax profits of £30.1m for 2014, up 6 per cent on the previous year.

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