Carat parent reports higher profits, continued global expansion

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LONDON -- Aegis Group, parent of Europe's largest independent media specialist, Carat, announced on March 11 pre-tax profits for 1997 of $75 million, up 15% from the year before. Turnover was up 6% to $5.99 billion.

In 1996, Aegis began expanding from Europe with the aim of building within five years a meaningful presence in all the world's major markets under the Carat name and management control. During 1997 the group spent $39 mil lion on seven acquisitions.

Since late 1996, it has acquired three com panies in the U.S. Net media billings there at the end of 1997 were running at an annual ized $750 million, almost 10% of the group total.

Aegis has also been expanding in Asia, where it intends to take advantage of the current economic upheavals and strong British pounds to make additional acquisitions. It has opera tions in India and Hong Kong. In late 1997, it acquired Mediabase in Malaysia and has just com pleted the purchase of Halmarick Media in Australia. Further acquisitions in Australia are being con sidered.

Aegis has just signed agreements to enter into a joint venture with a leading agency in Thailand and expects to complete joint venture agreements with agencies in the Philippines and Taiwan in the next three to six months.

Aegis Chief Executive Crispin Davis told Reuters on March 11 that Aegis is still in touch with Zenith about acquiring the com pany but "nothing had progressed beyond the early stages."

Copyright March 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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