Aegis Group, parent of the sole surviving independent global media network Carat, on Tuesday reported flat first half growth with revenues (excluding acquisitions) up a meagre 0.5% year-on-year. Although interim revenues were up 9% to £273.3 million ($424.64m; €434.9m) , pre-tax profits fell slightly from £17.6m to £17.0m

But despite the current standstill, Aegis detects early signs of recovery in the North American ad market where Carat’s turnover increased by 29%. Comments ceo Doug Flynn: “Our media division Carat continues to perform well with the US achieving good growth through new business wins.”

Growth in Asia was better yet, 49% up on the same period in 2001. Europe, however, languished in the doldrums with a 6% decline against last year’s strong performance.

As to H2, Flynn was upbeat: “Whatever the market conditions over the remainder of this year, the group is better prepared than ever to gain market share and maximise the returns to its shareholders.”

Some observers suggest Flynn's words are aimed as much at possible predators as investors. Few believe Aegis, which also has extensive market research assets, can remain independent for much longer. Havas, in particular, is seen as a likely buyer.

Aegis shares, down by over 40% in the last six months, rose 4% to £0.715 at close of trading Tuesday.

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