VINCENT BOLLORE SELLS SHIPPING COMPANY FOR $600 MILLION
Speculation Swirls About His Plans for the Cash
AEGIS GROUP'S ASIA/PACIFIC CEO QUITS
Global Chief David Verklin to Take Over Asian Duties
VINCENT BOLLORE ACQUIRES 6% OF AEGIS GROUP
Aegis Owns Carat Global Media-Buying Agency
With first-half revenues up 14.8% to $682 million and organic revenue growth at a market-leading 7.5%, it is easy to see why French corporate raider Vincent Bollore acquired 6% of Aegis last month.
'Rumor and speculation'
Robert Lerwill, Aegis' CEO, said he had not spoken to Bollore Group since an initial conversation with Mr. Bollore on the day of the share acquisition. He said, “The only fact is that Mr. Bollore has 6%. Anything else is rumor and speculation that is not appropriate to discuss.”
In response to questions about rumoured talks with Omnicom Group, Mr. Lerwill stressed it is his job to keep up contacts in and around the industry: “I have had one drink with [Omnicom CEO] John Wren since I took over in February. There were no discussions about buying a stake.”
Concentrating on media
Mr. Lerwill insisted that Aegis Group -– which includes Carat, Vizeum, Isobar, Posterscope and market research firm Synovate -– will “continue to follow the strategy of concentrating on media and market research that has produced such excellent results for shareholders.”
However, he added, “We would always look at anything that could give out higher shareholder value for Aegis shareholders. We would consider anything plausible but there is no suggestion that anything has been put to our board.”
Not going full service
Aegis Group’s strategy, Mr. Lerwill said, is not to be full service. “The neutrality of our advice is valued by our clients,” he insisted. He also emphasized that Aegis is a strong rival to the bigger holding companies in the areas where they compete, and can claim to be a top-five concern in most of the markets where it operates.
The strength of the results, Mr. Lerwill claimed, is due to Aegis Group’s speedy adaptation to the market transition away from traditional media and its understanding of the new more complex integrated media models.