As Parent Company Aegis Waits Out Takeover Talks

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NEW YORK ( -- Six months into his job as president of Carat USA, Ray Warren has filled two key roles and expects to fill a third in the next 90 days.
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Mr. Warren, who joined Aegis’ Carat from rival media agency OMD this summer, brought on Johann Wachs as senior VP-strategy director in September, and in early November hired Amy Drill as senior VP-media innovation development. The pair, said Mr. Warren, “bring a robust combination of data analytics combined with strategic research and thinking.”

Keeping that ability robust is key to Carat maintaining its primary position as the U.S. media-buying agency whose unique selling proposition is built on not only its ability to buy a particular demographic, but also its insight into which piece of a media plan drive sales and when -- whether it was a client’s TV buy, or coupon, or video-game ad that resonated with a target.

Still to come
Still to come: an executive who will handle dual roles as head of Carat’s New York office and exec VP-managing director and head of planning. Together, these new hires cover responsibilities previously handled by two top Carat executives who helped build the U.S. operation from its first days, Joanne Burke, exec VP-managing director and longtime head of Carat Insight, and Bruce Dennler, exec VP-director of planning, both of whom left Carat earlier in 2005.

Aegis -- the world’s 7th largest media entity, according to media researcher RECM -- has in recent months been a possible takeover target by rival WPP, which in October paired with private equity firm Hellman & Friedman to consider making an offer for Aegis.

In recent weeks, Vincent Bollore, who is Havas’ chairman and its single largest shareholder -- as well as Aegis’ single largest shareholder -- was reported to be in talks with WPP and Hellman about creating a consortium to bid for Aegis. On Nov. 25, however, both WPP and Hellman & Friedman said they would not make an offer. Mr. Bollore, who now owns 25.05 percent, has bought shares of Aegis steadily since August. Once he holds a 30 percent stake, he will be required by U.K. law to launch a full bid for the company.

Hiring senior talent is also a priority at Carat sibling Fusion, a digital and direct-response arm. Sarah Fay, president of Isobar, the global network of digital companies operated by Aegis, is handling the responsibilities of Toby Gabriner, Fusion’s former president who left on Nov. 16 to become CEO of Poindexter Systems, a provider of advertisement optimization systems.

Mr. Gabriner joined Carat in 2003 after Carat acquired Freestyle Interactive, where he’d been president-chief operating officer. He started as exec VP-managing director, Carat Interactive, San Francisco, and rose to the president job. (Carat Interactive was renamed Carat Fusion in Sept. 2005.) “We’re looking both inside and outside the company,” Ms. Fay said.

Ms. Drill, who oversees Carat Insight, was director-interactive strategy at WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather. She’s also worked in strategic marketing and project management positions at marketers including IBM and Pepsi.

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