BOLLORE UPS AEGIS STAKE TO 8%

Becomes Second-Largest Shareholder

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NEW YORK (Adage.com) -- The Bollore Group, led by French investor and Havas chairman Vincent Bollore, today said it has increased its stake in London-based media company Aegis Group to 8.04%.
Vincent Bollore has again upped his stake in Aegis.
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The additional 2.01% of total shares outstanding, added to the initial 6.03% of shares purchased in early August, makes the Bollore Group Aegis' second-largest shareholder behind Chicago-based Harris Associates.

Media holdings
A spokesman for Mr. Bollore, in addition to confirming the purchase, said only that the Bollore Group continues its policy of investing in the media sector. Mr. Bollore is the single-largest shareholder in advertising holding company Havas and also owns French terrestrial TV channel Direct 8 and a stake in film company Gaumont.

The additional purchase of Aegis shares by Mr. Bollore comes one week after Havas' French rival, Publicis Groupe, said it had had talks with Aegis about a $2.8 billion "preliminary approach." Last night, during an interview with journalist Charlie Rose in New York as part of Advertising Week, Publicis Groupe Chairman-CEO Maurice Levy described Aegis as "one of few independents in our field," and said "obviously, there is a fit with us," although he declined to offer specifics.

He emphasized that "we're just at the beginning of the process; these are very preliminary conversations. We've not yet entered into serious negotiations. I've made no offer."

Aegis' suitors
Last week, Publicis appeared to be the only serious suitor of Aegis, parent of media buying and planning unit Carat. Omnicom Group, which years ago owned part of Aegis but eventually sold it, has in recent months been rumored to be interested. But Omnicom President-CEO John Wren last week disclosed plans to build out the capabilities of the holding company's current media operations, especially its No. 2 network, PHD.

WPP Group is not believed to be interested in the whole of Aegis, although its group chief executive, Martin Sorrell, has been quoted in the press saying he would be interested in Aegis' market-research unit Synovate if it were for sale.

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Laurel Wentz contributed to this report

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