An apparent internal war has resulted in Cossette Inc. partners squaring offing against former colleagues with a takeover proposal that values the firm at $82.7 million.

Cosmos Capital Inc., headed by a former president of Cossette and another lead partner, is offering $4.95 cash per share, a 52 per cent premium to the Friday closing price for Cossette shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The proposal comes two months after Cosmos controlling partner Francois Duffar left Cossette with no explanation. He is joined at Cosmos by former senior Cossette vice-president Georges Morin, who resigned from Cossette’s board Saturday.

Marcel Barthe, vice-president of corporate strategy, said it would be inappropriate to comment on an apparent split within Canada’s largest advertising and communications company. But industry observers said the genesis — which may include concern over how Cossette is run — must have been serious enough to prompt key partners to take such a dramatic and public move.

Cossette has been hit by the economic slowdown and lost about half of its contract to supply advertising to Bell Canada. Other clients include General Motors, which recently exited bankruptcy protection, McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada, Coca-Cola and Dairy Farmers of Canada.

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