NEW YORK WPP Group today declined to comment on reports that it is in talks with French financier and Havas chairman Vincent Bolloré to make a joint bid along with San Francisco-based investment group Hellman & Friedman for Aegis Group.
Bolloré is already the largest Aegis shareholder with a nearly 25 percent stake. Any deal to acquire Aegis by a third party other than Bolloré would require his blessing because the one-quarter interest gives him the right to veto a sale of the company under British takeover laws.
Bolloré's investment in Aegis is handled by a company separate from Havas.
WPP and Hellman are facing a Nov. 25 deadline set by the British Takeover panel, at Aegis' request, to either make a bid for the company or be forced to wait six months before taking another run at the London-based parent of media agency Carat.
Last month, WPP confirmed that it was considering a bid with Hellman. Its main interest is in acquiring Aegis research arm Synovate; Hellman would likely acquire the rest of the company. Publicis Groupe considered making a separate bid, but withdrew from the process in October.
Aegis and Bolloré officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment.