Publicis Groupe, the world's fourth largest agency holding company, on Wednesday undertook not to mount a hostile bid for Aegis Group - number nine in the global rankings and the object of the former's affections - should their current takeover negotiations fail.

The two companies yesterday signed a 'standstill agreement' that prevents Publicis from any aggressive action if their merger talks end in stalemate. And should the discussions reach due diligence stage (which now seems feasible), Publicis is barred from acquiring any additional Aegis shares during that period.

Meantime, Vincent Bolloré, French corporate raider and chairman of world number six agency group Havas, is now the second-biggest shareholder in Aegis, having earlier this week hiked his 6% stake in Aegis to 8.04% [WAMN: 28-Sep-05].

He insists he has no takeover ambitions and is simply making a financial investment in Aegis as part of his plans to expand his media sector interests.

But some observers wonder if the canny Bolloré isn't simply nudging up Aegis' share price so as to maximize the value of his holding if and when the deal with Publicis is sealed.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff