Aegis Repeats 'Non' to Bolloré's Board Bid

23 November 2006

LONDON: Like all good salesmen, Havas chairman Vincent Bolloré doesn't take 'no' for an answer. Not even when voiced by an overwhelming majority of Aegis Group shareholders, who at Wednesday's extraordinary general meeting declined - for the second time this year - his demand for two seats on the company's board.

Excluding Bolloré's own holding (he owns 29% of Aegis stock) 94.2% of all other votes opposed his motion to shoehorn two of his lieutenants - Roger Hatchuel and Phillipe Germond - into Aegis' boardroom.

The Frenchman, who also controls 24% of the global Havas agency network, received 41.5% of the total votes cast, slightly less than the 41.68% he obtained at Aegis' annual meeting in June.

It is Bolloré's connection with Havas, a close competitor, that triggers such staunch opposition from Aegis' management, who would view any boardroom representation as a Trojan Horse.

Says Aegis chairman Lord Colin Sharman: "We hope that Groupe Bolloré will respect the views of the clear majority of Aegis shareholders voting today."

But Sharman, who is not known for his naïveté, is well aware that Bolloré will return to the fray at the earliest possible moment.

In the wake of yesterday's meeting, the latter declared his intention to call another shareholder vote within two to three months.

In de Gaulle mode, Bolloré proclaimed: "We will continue to go with this way. We can stay [as shareholders] for a long time." He declared himself prepared to wait "for years" if necessary to get boardroom representation.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff