Aegis Shareholders Again Reject Four-Times Loser Bolloré

29 May 2007

LONDON: Is Vincent Bolloré, chairman of the globe's fifth-largest agency group Havas, inspired by Avis's long-running campaign of the 80s and 90s: 'We're number two. We try harder'?

At number five the French corporate raider (pictured above) is trying very hard indeed - four times within the space of a year - to bulldoze his two nominees Philippe Germond and Roger Hatchuel onto the board of Aegis Group, in which he holds a 29.1% stake.

Bolloré's fourth attempt bit the dust on Friday, after Aegis shareholders rejected his motion by 59% to 41% - an even more emphatic rejection than the last vote in April when he scored 43.7%.

The Aegis board remains hostile to Bolloré's demand on a "point of principle": that he is chairman and controlling shareholder of a major competitor.

Subtract his 29.1% of voting shares from Friday's result and it is evident that a meagre 11.9% of votes support the Frenchman's attempt to enter the inner sanctum of his commercial rival.

If Bolloré lifts his stake beyond 30%, UK company law requires him to bid for the whole company. Instead, he hopes to gain influence without going that extra, expensive mile by shoehorning his two placemen onto the Aegis board.

Argues Bolloré: "We want two representatives out of fourteen. No one can argue that we are trying to seek control.

"In the world many companies have a conflict of interest - British Airways has two seats on the board of Iberia Airlines - we don't believe it [conflict with Havas] is an important argument. The active participation of shareholders is vital to this board."

Data sourced from BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff