Bolloré Ups Stake in Aegis, Just Shy of ‘Veto’ Power

NEW YORK French financier and Havas chairman Vincent Bolloré added another 3 percent to his investment in Carat parent Aegis Group last week, bringing his total stake to 24.99 percent, just below the 25 percent level that would give him the absolute right to veto a company merger. “Bolloré is the king maker” in the bidding for the London-based holding company, said one analyst. “Nothing is going to happen without Bolloré’s say-so.” Sources said that Bolloré has met with Aegis CEO Robert Lerwill and that Bolloré has told him the investment is “financial.” Sources also indicate that Aegis management will resist any attempt by Bolloré to gain board representation, given his role as chairman of competitor Havas. Meanwhile, WPP has until Nov. 25 to decide whether it will make a bid for Aegis in tandem with U.S. financial concern Hellman & Friedman.

IPG’s Shareholders Meet Today, Six Months Late

IPG this morning will finally hold its annual stockholder meeting in New York—six months later than usual—and is expected to get an earful from at least some shareholders, given continuing losses, an SEC investigation related to lingering accounting issues and a resolution calling for IPG to sell itself to the highest bidder. Also, an institutional investor advisor has recommended that shareholders vote against re-appointing outside auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers and veteran board members Frank Borelli, Jill Considine and Reg Brack. The meeting comes two months after IPG caught up on its financial reporting, and one week after the company reported a $101.5 million loss for the third quarter and a $240 million loss for the first nine months of 2005. Last week, IPG CEO Michael Roth also told analysts that organic growth declined in those periods and would likely finish down “modestly” for the year.

Discover to Name Consultant For $80 Mil. Creative Pitch

CHICAGO Discover Financial Services is poised to name a consultant this week to handle the review for creative duties on its $80 million account. The Riverwoods, Ill., company, a division of Morgan Stanley, is splitting with Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco, after the Omnicom shop opted to pursue a conflicting account, a Discover rep said. That account is believed to be Visa USA, which has been hearing pitches from Omnicom shops including incumbent BBDO in New York and TBWA\Chiat\Day in Playa del Rey, Calif., sources said. Goodby could not be reached.

Milk Board Exec Leaves to Start Branding Firm, “Got Manning?”

SAN FRANCISCO Jeff Manning, executive director of the California Milk Processor Board and the client behind the “Got Milk?” campaign from Omnicom’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners here, has left the board after 12 years to launch a brand and category development firm called “Got Manning?” in Orinda, Calif. A replacement has not yet been named, the board said. The move is not expected to affect the relationship between the client and Goodby, the board said. The next TV spots in the campaign are planned to break in late spring.

NBC Goes Off-Network To Lure Men to Olympic Broadcast

LOS ANGELES NBC will spend “tens of millions” of dollars off-network on a pre-Olympic push that breaks this week and aims to reach young men with comedy and special effects, NBC said. In one of more than a half-dozen spots created by The NBC Agency, ex-football player Jeremy Bloom brings a “gridiron mentality” to downhill skiing by doing so in his old helmet, earning a frozen-Gatorade victory shower. In another, the origins of the snowboard cross event are explained via a campfire tale, in which abominable snowmen pursue on boards.

News Roundup

Omnicom’s DDB in Chicago last week won creative duties for LensCrafters’ estimated $60 million account, beating Publicis’ The Kaplan Thaler Group in New York and Havas’ Arnold in Boston. … Following a review, Andersen Windows said it has tapped independent Gabriel deGrood Bendt in Minneapolis to handle a creative project. The client spent about $30 million on ads last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. The incumbent, IPG’s Campbell Mithun, will continue to handle media.