UK takeover law requires that any shareholder owning 30% or more of a listed company's stock must make a formal offer for the whole entity.
The stake in Aegis Group held by French corporate wheeler-dealer Vincent Bolloré is now just five per cent below that trigger point, it emerged Monday.
On Friday Bolloré - who employed similar tactics to bulldoze his way into effective control and the chair of global marketing services group Havas - bought an additional block of Aegis shares equivalent to 3%, thereby lifting his holding to 24.05%.
But Bolloré's cards remain, as ever, glued to his chest and his intentions toward Aegis a matter for speculation. He continues to insist that his stake-building is nothing more than a "financial investment".
Meantime, the clock is ticking for WPP Group and its US ally Hellman & Friedman. The duo have been told by the UK Takeover Panel they must make a formal bid for Aegis by 12-noon November 25 or refrain from further bid activity for six months.
The relentless stakebuilding by the Havas chairman makes it increasingly less likely that WPP and H&F will make any aggressive move.
Precisely Bolloré's intention, say observers!
Data sourced from Telegraph.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff