*WPP, Young & Rubicam Appear Ready to Merge

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British advertising conglomerate WPP, London, has reportedly reached an interim agreement to purchase Young & Rubicam Inc., New York, for an estimated $5.5 billion. accrding to news reports. If approved by shareholders and government regulators, the deal will result in the creation of the world's largest advertising, marketing and media services group.


Neither company commented on the reports.


Reuters news agency yesterday said WPP had agreed in principle to acquire Y&R, one of the last independently-run agencies worldwide, citing a source close to the negotiations who said, "A takeover has been agreed in principle but is still subject to approval by clients among others. The deal should be ready to be announced midweek."


Nevertheless, it was unclear how far a deal had actually gone, according to the report.


The agency said London insiders were claiming that Y&R's board had already given a nod to the terms, yet sources close to Y&R in New York were still saying that no board action had yet been taken on the takeover.


On the London Stock Exchange, the share price for WPP closed 6.5 percent down at 911 pence, while Y&R shares fell 4 percent to $55 in New York.
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