VINCENT BOLLORE SPEAKS OUT IN PARIS
Listen to Excerpts of Ad Age Interview With Him
VINCENT BOLLORE WON'T SEEK SEAT ON AEGIS BOARD
Owns 25% of Company, But Cites Conflict of Interest
VINCENT BOLLORE IN TALKS WITH RIVAL FOR AEGIS
Exploring Partnership with WPP, Hellman to Acquire Media Agency
AEGIS SUITORS GIVEN DEADLINE
Offers Must Be on Table by Nov. 25
AEGIS HIRES NEW MEDIA CHIEF
Former WPP Exec Mainardo de Nardis to Head Global Operations
AEGIS TO OPEN BOOKS FOR PROSPECTIVE BUYERS
Meanwhile Vincent Bollore Ups Stake to 14.7%
Aegis is building a formidable capability with its digital network Isobar, which acquired 10 businesses around the world in 2005 and grew by 110%. It now accounts for 15% of overall media revenue at Aegis.
Synovate, Aegis Group’s market research arm, remains a particularly attractive proposition for WPP Group, which wants to strengthen its offering in this sector. Synovate delivered organic revenue growth of 10.8% and made nine acquisitions last year.
$2.8 billion in new business
Robert Lerwill, CEO of Aegis, parent company to media specialist networks Carat and Vizeum, said the company's $2.8 billion in new-business wins was “very gratifying given the distractions during the year.” Revenue grew by 16.5% to $1.52 billion, and organic growth was 7.2%.
The “distractions” Mr. Lerwill referred to were overtures from possible buyers, starting with the joint approach made to Aegis last year by WPP and private equity company Hellman & Friedman. The two companies can make another approach in May 2006 under U.K. Takeover Panel rules, but Mr. Lerwill said he does not expect that to happen.
Neither do executives close to Aegis. One said: “They didn’t have anything much last time around. Hellman & Friedman’s heart wasn’t in it and the WPP board isn’t in the mood to make a big acquisition of this kind.”
Looming larger in the takeover scenario is Vincent Bollore, chairman of Paris-based Havas, who bought up 25% of Aegis Group to become its largest shareholder last year. There has been intense speculation that Mr. Bollore wants to create some sort of venture between Aegis, particularly Carat’s strong French operation, and the weaker Havas media arm MPG.
Jeremy Hicks, the chief financial officer of Aegis Group, said, “If something of absolute benefit to all shareholders comes up then we’ll do it. That’s what we’re here for.” Added Mr. Lerwill: “We are not closed-minded or confrontational on this.”