Bolloré Plays Guessing Games Over Aegis Bid

18 February 2008

PARIS: As the late, great broadcaster Ed Murrow once observed: "Anyone who isn't confused doesn't understand the situation."  A principle that wily French financier Vincent Bolloré (pictured) frequently and skilfully exploits.

On Friday Bolloré, who also chairs global marketing services conglomerate Havas, told Bloomberg Television that he's no nearer to mounting a bid for London-headquartered Aegis Group in which he already holds a 29.9% stake.

"Our company isn't in that state of mind today," he said, chanting his usual mantra that he should have the right to nominate directors to Aegis's board. "That's our subject today; it's not the rest."

But right on cue, Havas ceo Fernando Rodes dutifully implied the opposite. In an interview with the Financial Times, he opined that the 23% plunge in Aegis shares over the last year had made it an even more alluring target.

Asked if this had sharpened the takeover twinkle in his boss's eye, Rodes nodded: "That would probably dynamise and accelerate things a bit."

Moving into crystal ball territory, he predicted that 2008 will be "an OK year", bolstered by the US elections and the Beijing Olympics. "The problem is 2009. Next year is more difficult to predict, and I'm not especially optimistic today."

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff