The purchase, made yesterday, increases the stake held by Mr. Bollore's Bollore Group from 28.81%, or 326 million shares, to 29.01%, or 328 million shares of Aegis. Once he owns more than 29.9% of total shares outstanding, Mr. Bollore is obliged under U.K. law to make a cash offer.
Joining forces with Sorrell
Mr. Bollore has in recent interviews said he's interested in joining forces with Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP Group. WPP last October teamed with private equity firm Hellman & Friedman to explore a possible cash offer for Aegis. The next month it opted not to make one, and has been barred by regulators for six months from any activity in Aegis. But as of tomorrow the restriction is lifted.
Mr. Sorrell in a recent discussion with financial analysts to present WPP's first-quarter revenue did say the company is still interested in Aegis' market research operation, Synovate. A spokesman for WPP had no further comment today.
Mr. Bollore, who, in addition to being Aegis' largest shareholder, is chairman of rival agency holding company Havas, last week presented two nominees to Aegis' board that are to be voted on at Aegis' annual general meeting June 14. Aegis management opposes the nominees, saying any director appointee proposed by Bollore Group cannot be fully independent to represent all Aegis' shareholder interests. Aegis management is pushing all shareholders to vote against the proposals at the upcoming meeting.