WPP Chief Confirms Continued Aegis Interest

27 January 2006

WPP Group ceo Sir Martin Sorrell still has media buying and research conglomerate Aegis Group in his takeover sights despite withdrawing from a bid last year [WAMN: 25-Nov-05].

Sir Martin, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, told the Reuters news agency that he is particularly interested in Aegis's market research business Synovate.

Last year, London-headquartered WPP linked with US private equity partner Hellman & Friedman to bid for the media group (also London-based), but pulled out at the last minute.

Under UK takeover rules Sir Martin and any putative partners must wait until May to try again.

However, the WPP boss made it clear he would carefully examine Synovate's accounts before any new move, and he questioned the information he and his partners were given previously, saying: "I think it was probably very optimistic."

Aegis's largest shareholder is Vincent Bolloré, who owns 25.47% of the company. His long-term intentions are not clear but he has hinted he is interested in a tie-up with the France-headquartered Havas marketing services group of which he is chairman.

Data sourced from BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff