WPP EYES AEGIS ACQUISITION

Teams With Equity Firm in Counter Move Against Publicis

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LONDON (AdAge.com) -- Publicis Groupe has at least one rival in its takeover bid for Aegis Group: WPP Group is teaming with private equity firm Hellman & Friedman in taking a look at Aegis.
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Statement to shareholders
In a statement to shareholders this morning, Aegis said it met with more than one "potential offeror to share non-public information on the company." Aegis added that there can be no certainty that any offer will be made for the company.

Executives close to the situation identified the interested party as WPP and said it is lining up a bid with private equity firm Hellman & Friedman. It is believed that WPP’s main interest is in Aegis’ research company, Synovate, and that Hellman & Friedman is eyeing Carat, its global media-buying and -planning entity.

Omnicom Group
Analysts have also cited Omnicom Group as a potentially interested suitor in Aegis. WPP, Omnicom and Publicis declined to comment. Publicis last week confirmed it had discussions with Aegis, but made no offer.

Speculation about Aegis’s future has been mounting since Vincent Bollore, chairman of French advertising group Havas, started building a stake in Aegis in August. This week he increased his stake in Aegis to 12.63%, making him Aegis’ largest shareholder and giving him enough shares to have influence over the future of the London-based company.

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