October 12, 2017 / 9:12 AM / 6 days ago

WPP objects to Bain's offer for Japan's Asatsu-DK

LONDON (Reuters) - WPP, the world’s biggest advertising agency, on Thursday stepped up its efforts to stop U.S. private equity firm Bain Capital from buying Japan’s Asatsu-DK Inc, saying the offer significantly undervalued its stake in the firm.

Bain announced an agreed deal to buy Japan’s third-largest advertising agency this month for $1.35 billion, marking a 15.4 percent premium over the day before it was announced.

However the news triggered a backlash from WPP, which owns a 24.96 percent stake in Asatsu-DK.

On Thursday it questioned whether Asatsu-DK had considered any other offer for the company and said it had concerns about the group’s overall strategy in terms of its approach to improving overseas operations and developing digital services.

“Has Bain Capital ever given ADK’s management reassurance about their own position as part of this transaction and, if so, should not those terms be disclosed?” WPP said.

The buyout will be canceled if Bain fails to buy a stake larger than 50.1 percent.

Asatsu-DK has said it supports Bain’s offer, arguing that a strategic review found that private ownership represented the best option to position the company for sustainable growth.

“In collaboration with Bain Capital, we will set a course towards bold structural reforms and growth strategies that will help us to enhance our competitiveness and to expand our market share, both in Japan and overseas,” President and Group CEO Shinichi Ueno said when the deal was announced.

Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Keith Weir

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