HAVAS DISTANCES ITSELF FROM AEGIS TAKEOVER TALKS

Says Statements By Chairman Bollore Do Not Reflect Company Agenda

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In response to a request by U.K. officials who monitor merger and acquisition activity, Havas today said the activities of its chairman, Vincent Bollore, do not reflect whether the holding company might become involved in discussions for Aegis Group.
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Havas said this morning that recent statements made by Mr. Bollore regarding his purchase of 12.63% of Aegis through The Bollore Group were not made in his “capacity as Chairman of Havas. ... Such statements should not be taken as having any bearing on the question of whether or not Havas might participate at any time in any offer for Aegis in any capacity.”

A financial stake
In remarks last week, Mr. Bollore told French newspaper Le Figaro that his investment in Aegis is a financial one. At the same time, however, his ownership of more than 10% of Aegis shares gives him rights such as the ability to call special shareholder meetings.

Publicis Groupe has held preliminary talks with Aegis about an acquisition but has not made a formal offer. Yesterday it was revealed that WPP Group and San Francisco buyout firm Hellman & Friedman are partnering in preliminary discussions for Aegis. WPP Group is now the largest buyer of media in the world, and Hellman & Friedman has in the past bought into the advertising sector, most famously with Young & Rubicam years ago. WPP is said to be interested in Aegis’ market research firm Synovate.

Thus far, Omnicom Group, the world’s largest advertising holding company, is on the sidelines in the current activity around Aegis.

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