Unsought Suitors Cost Aegis £1.6m

23 December 2005

London-headquartered Aegis Group has been hit by £1.6 million ($2.78m; €2.36m) in legal and financial costs incurred earlier this year during unsolicited bid manoeuvrings by Publicis Groupe and WPP Group.

It is also likely that professional fees arising from the equally unsought attentions of French corporate raider Vincent Bolloré, who now holds a 25% stake in Aegis, will have plundered the petty cash.

Ironically, the media and research group has also been hit by another unexpected charge: increased liabilities related to share-based staff incentives following the sharp rise in its stock price triggered by takeover speculation.

Despite these drawbacks, Aegis says its results for 2005 will be in line with expectations despite "slightly weaker than anticipated" adspend growth in many European markets.

In a trading update issued Wednesday, the company also reported "intense" competition in traditional media planning. However, this was balanced by investment in specialist media, communications planning and other non-traditional activities.

As to 2006, Aegis sees roses all the way: "We will continue to benefit from our focus and strong strategic positions in our markets, allied to solid market prospects and the full year effect of the acquisitions made in 2005."

Data sourced from MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff