Aegis Group on Thursday publicly spurned two nominations for its board proposed by Vincent Bolloré, the French corporate raider who now holds a 27.6% stake in the London-headquartered global media buying and research specialist [WAMN: 17-May-06].
Bolloré, who is also the largest shareholder in (and chairman of) Havas, the globe's fifth largest agency holding company, named Roger Hatchuel as one of his two nominees.
A former owner of the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, Hatchuel is the proud owner of one of adland's hottest contact books. The second nominee is erstwhile Alcatel president Phillipe Germond.
Both candidates are proposed for election at Aegis' annual meeting on May 24. Neither, however, is acceptable to the Aegis board which has not only stated its opposition but postponed the meeting until June 14 to allow other shareholders time to mull the matter.
In a statement, the Aegis board said it opposed Bolloré's nominations as his dominant holding in Havas makes it impossible for such nominees to act with independence in the best interest of other Aegis shareholders.
The statement reads: "The Board will not favour any single shareholder group over and above the interests of Aegis shareholders as a whole." It also urged a full turnout of shareholders at the annual meeting to vote against Bolloré's nominations.
Onlookers expect a storm of 'closed-door' meetings over the next twenty-six days, accompanied by an eruption of emails, phonecalls and faxes.
While those who remember the events culminating in Bolloré's usurpation of Havas last summer also recall that the French - as ever - have an apt phrase for such things.
Plus ça change, plus ça même chose!
Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff