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Digital Growth Lifts Aegis

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BOSTON Aegis Group today said its first-half revenue rose 19 percent to $880 million, compared to the first six months of 2005.

A strong performance by digital marketing unit Isobar, where revenue improved 30 percent, drove the overall numbers. Media operations (Carat and Vizeum) grew 15 percent. Market research arm Synovate enjoyed a 25 percent revenue gain.

On an organic basis, factoring out the impact of acquisitions and currency fluctuations, Aegis' revenue grew more than 7 percent in the first half, compared to the same period a year ago.

Pre-tax profits for the six months rose more than 15 percent to $82 million.

The London-based company said it netted $1.3 billion in new business during the half, including work from Abbey Digital, Alain Affelou, Fiat, HP Foods, Hutchinson 3G and Orange.

"With our record new business performance in Aegis Media and a strong order book at Synovate, we expect to deliver further good growth this year and beyond," said Aegis CEO Robert Lerwill, in a statement.

In the U.S., revenue improved 3 percent to $110 million for the first half of 2006.

Aegis is seeking to establish a North American presence for its Vizeum network, and in July named Jamie Edwards chief client officer for the region [Adweek Online, July 17]. Vizeum should open in the U.S. by year's end or early 2007. A few European clients, including Rolls Royce, have asked it to provide strategy opinions for the U.S. market. Vizeum has also advised Circuit City on some communications issues but did not contend in the client's recent media review. As yet, Vizeum has pitched no domestic accounts.

Aegis faces a challenge on the $500 million Kodak media business, now in review and on which Carat is an incumbent.

It is also one of the holding companies invited by Fox Filmed Entertainment to put together a plan to pitch the concern's $1 billion-plus media assignment [Adweek Online, Aug 21].

Separately, Havas chairman Vincent Bolloré has frequently expressed his desire to forge an alliance between Havas' MPG and Aegis' media holdings. Bolloré, who also owns approximately 29 percent of Aegis, in June attempted to install two members on the company's board, but shareholders rejected the bid. He is expected to call an extraordinary meeting of Aegis shareholders in the fall.