NEW YORK For the third time in less than a year, Aegis Group shareholders have rejected a proposal by French investor Vincent Bolloré to gain a pair of seats on the company's board.
Aegis shareholders had already voted down the same proposal in June and November 2006.
The third vote on the matter was held today at Aegis' headquarters in London.
The results of all three votes were practically identical: each time, more than 90 percent of the shares not controlled by Bolloré were pledged against the resolution to place a pair of his associates on the board.
Lord Sharman, chairman of Aegis, said the outcome demonstrates that shareholders "see board representation for a direct competitor as an unacceptable conflict of interest. We hope that Groupe Bolloré will come to respect this democratically expressed point of view. In the meantime, our attention remains on developing our business for the benefit of all shareholders."
Bolloré is Aegis' largest single shareholder, holding a 29 percent stake in the company.
He also serves as chairman of Paris-based holding company Havas. That standing constitutes a flagrant conflict of interest that should effectively bar his representatives from serving on Aegis' board, the company's management has argued.
Analysts have said that given Aegis' strong financial performances of late, no real benefit would be gained by bringing that company closer to Havas, which has turned in mediocre performances.
Bolloré has made no secret of his desire to somehow combine the media operations of Aegis and Havas.
The former is the parent of the Carat, Isobar, Synovate and Vizeum networks. Havas owns Arnold, Euro RSCG and MPG.