Bolloré Snipes at Aegis Results - But Forgets to Load Gun

07 September 2007

LONDON: Little surprise that French corporate raider Vincent Bolloré (pictured) chose to take a few pot-shots at Aegis Group management over its H1 numbers - but the Havas chairman apparently forgot to load his gun.

Bolloré, who last month upped his stake in Aegis to 29.86% - just 0.14% short of the point at which he must make a full takeover bid - has been relentlessly but fruitlessly campaigning to plant two of his nominees on Aegis's board.

On Thursday he took the opportunity to snipe at Aegis's management, declaring himself "disappointed" at the group's interim results - 18% down year-on-year to £26 million ($52.63m; €38.42m).

But Aegis ceo Robert Lerwill cast his eyes heaven-ward: Bolloré, he said, was apparently judging Aegis purely on its statutory accounts, which were skewed by ''accounting technicalities''.

Continued Lerwill: "Frankly it's a strange and uninformed quick fire of the statutory numbers which is not in line with the way other investors look at it.

"On a constant currency basis Havas had organic revenue growth of 4.4% in first half and the average of our main competitors was 4.6%. Aegis is 9.6% and clearly ahead."

The strength of sterling against the dollar had impacted adversely on Aegis's results to the tune of ten per cent in the half-year, Lerwill pointed out.

With currency movements stripped-out of the equation, underlying first-half pre-tax profit rose 8.7% to £41.3m.

Revenue was up 7.7% at £499m, while organic growth within the Aegis Media division was 9.8%. In the group's research unit, Synovate, organic growth rose 9.3%.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff