Aegis Owns Carat Global Media-Buying Agency

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NEW YORK ( -- Bollore Group, the company led by French investor Vincent Bollore, has acquired just more than 6% of Aegis Group, which owns media-buying and -planning company Carat, according to a statement issued by the Bollore Group today.
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Three Bollore entities
According to the statement, Bollore Group bought 3% of Aegis capital on Aug. 2 and as of today increased that stake to 6%. The shares are spread among three Bollore Group entities: 0.53% held by Bollore Participations; 1.52% held by Nord Sumatra Investissements, and 3.98% owned by Financiere du Loch.

Aegis Group, based in London, is traded on the London stock exchange, and is the world's seventh-largest marketing services organization, with worldwide revenues of $1.4 billion, according to Ad Age figures. Carat, its global media-buying and -planning entity, was founded in France by Gilbert Gross in 1966.

Mr. Bollore, last month named chairman of French advertising holding company Havas, owns more than 22% of that company, parent of Euro RSCG Worldwide and media-buying and -planning company MPG.

During a conference call with analysts yesterday, Havas' newly installed CEO, Philippe Wahl, refused to answer analysts questions about management's strategy for the company. Pressed about rumors that Aegis Group was in play, Mr. Wahl said only: "We must be opportunistic and work for the good of the company."

Bolstering MPG
Prior to Mr. Bollore's investment in Havas, the company's former management made multiple attempts to bolster MPG, its media-planning and -buying unit. According to press reports, the previous regime, led by ex-Chairman-CEO Alain de Pouzilhac, held discussions with Interpublic Group of Cos. media agency Initiative, but the parties were unable to strike a deal. Later, as tensions between Mr. de Pouzilhac and Mr. Bollore mounted, Mr. de Pouzilhac blamed the uncertainty around Havas' future -- which he pinned on Mr. Bollore -- for Havas inability to improve MPG's situation.

Longtime Carat executive Charlie Rutman took over April 4 CEO of MPG North America. Mr. Rutman, formerly president of Carat USA, was a strong No. 2 to Carat Americas CEO David Verklin, and in that role helped to build Carat's media operations in the U.S. from only a handful of accounts to a serious player, with accounts from Pfizer, RadioShack, Marriott hotels and Procter & Gamble Co.

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