Bolloré Hikes Aegis Stake to Over 27%

17 May 2006

French corporate raider Vincent Bolloré, who also chairs and controls global agency holding company Havas, on Tuesday upped his 25% stake in London-headquartered media buying and research specialist Aegis Group to 27.6%.

Bolloré's steady, remorseless stakebuilding replicates the tactics used when gaining control of Havas last year, although he has consistently refused to clarify his intentions toward Aegis, archly insisting that his stock accrual was simply "an investment".

However, the canny Gaul's latest move takes him within spitting distance of the 30% marker at which UK takeover law demands that a formal offer be made.

Bolloré has also been coy about a possible, less formal, operational relationship between Aegis and Havas. When presenting Havas' annual report in March, the predator's right-hand man and former Havas ceo Phillipe Wahl told analysts: "At the moment, there is no discussion between Aegis and Havas, between Aegis and MPG, and between Aegis and its shareholder Mr Bolloré.

While not quite fluttering his eyelashes at the assembled analysts, Wahl then switched to coquettish mode: "It is not impossible that this non-discussion stops," he told the haruspices. Adding for the sake of comprehension: "This is English understatement."

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff