VINCENT BOLLORE UPS AEGIS STAKE PAST CRITICAL 25%

WPP Ends Bid; British Press Predicts Quick Bollore Takeover Move

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In a rapid succession of European events over the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, WPP Group ended its negotiations aimed at acquiring Aegis Group, U.K. regulators declared that Vincent Bollore
Vincent Bollore has increased his Aegis stake and cross a critical line of shareholder power under British law.
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Meanwhile Vincent Bollore Ups Stake to 14.7%

was free to make his own Aegis takeover bid as, meanwhile, Mr. Bollore increased his stake in the media-buying company to 25.05%.

Critical percentage
That percentage puts the financier and corporate raider across a critical line of control under British law. As owner of 25% of Aegis stock, he now wields "blocking minority" shareholder voting power.

In an analysis published earlier today, The Mail of London reported that Mr. Bollore is expected to make a move on Aegis before his scheduled Dec. 15 unveiling of a long-term plan for Havas, the French advertising holding company which he now also controls.

Havas chairman
Mr. Bollore, who heads a French conglomerate involved in a wide array of European industrial enterprises, is the chairman of Havas, the parent of advertising agency Euro RSCG. He ascended to that position in July after orchestrating the ouster of the holding company's former top managers and the election of himself and several associates to Havas' board. Shortly after that, he began to steadily increase his stake in Aegis, which owns media agency Carat as well as market research firm Synovate.

Many industry observers believe Mr. Bollore's ultimate goal is to synergistically combine Havas' creative advertising capabilities and Aegis' media-buying assets in a manner that allows the new entity to compete on a larger scale in the global marketing communications business. Mr. Bollore has declined to publically detail his exact intentions.

U.K. regulatory deadline
In September, reports that Publicis Group has initiated its own preliminary acquisition talks with Aegis set off a round of frenzied moves and counter moves as WPP Group, Mr. Bollore and private equity firm Hellman & Friedman entered into collaborative explorations of possible deals for Aegis. The Takeover Panel, a U.K. regulatory body that monitors corporate acquisition activity, ultimately set a deadline of last Friday for WPP and its allies to "put up or shut up" in their Aegis acquisition quest.

On Friday, after WPP bowed out of the proceedings, the Takeover Panel issued a statement announcing that Mr. Bollore's was still qualified to make his own bid for Aegis.

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