London-headquartered media group Aegis is putting a brave face on corporate raider Vincent's Bolloré's newly-acquired 6% stake in the business.
Ceo Steve Lerwill said the recently installed chairman of the Havas marketing services group bought the shares because he was "impressed" by the company. (That's what Victor Kiam said about Remington and everyone knows what happened next.)
Lerwill also insisted Bolloré's stake is a "financial investment" and that he had no idea of plans to buy more shares or of a tie-up with Havas. He said: "Everything else is rumour and speculation that is not appropriate to discuss."
Lerwill was speaking at a meeting to announce Aegis's 14.8% growth in revenues to £389 million ($717m; €574m) for the first half of the year [WAMN: 07-Sept-05].
Some analysts believe Bolloré could be engineering the same fate for Aegis - owner of media agencies Vizeum and Carat - as for the French-headquartered Havas. He gained control of the company this summer after a build-up of his stake and a bitter struggle with now ousted chairman Alain de Pouzilhac.
To add fuel to the speculation fire, Bolloré has sold a shipping business for €320m - cash that could be used to increase his interest in Aegis.
Data sourced from MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff