Havas chairman Vincent Bolloré on Friday again upped his stake in UK-headquartered media and research specialist Aegis Group. It now stands at 13.5%.

He did so via his private investment vehicle Groupe Bolloré, rather than the international marketing agency group, control of which he wrested earlier this year.

Speculation about the motives underlying Bolloré's stake-building remains rife. However, "a person close to Bolloré" confided to the Financial Times that the corporate raider wants Aegis to retain its independence from Publicis Groupe (with which it is is in formal merger discussions) or any other predator.

This, says the mole, would enable the forging of a partnership between the Havas and Aegis media planning and buying units, rather than a formal merger.

It would certainly be a less costly option than a takeover, although some onlookers doubt this is the whole story. Whispers in the ear of a journalist are as often designed to scent a false trail as to reveal the truth - especially when planted by those "close" to a key protagonist.

Cynics favour either - or both - of two alternative scenarios: (1) simple spoiling tactics or (2) upping the stakes around the Aegis poker table, the main beneficiary of which would be he who holds a 13.5% poke.

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