Aegis Taps Media CEO as Bolloré Stake Passes 20%

NEW YORK Aegis Group today appointed a global media CEO, Mainardo de Nardis, on the same day Havas chairman and French corporate raider Vincent Bolloré surpassed the 20 percent mark in his ongoing accumulation of Aegis shares.

In addition to holding the new position of global CEO at Aegis Media, de Nardis, 44, would also serve as a company director.

He is a 25-year industry veteran who joins from WPP Group’s Mediaedge:cia, where he was worldwide CEO, jointly running the agency with executive chairman Charles Courtier.

In a statement, Aegis CEO Robert Lerwill said that existing Aegis media brands such as Carat, Vizeum and Isobar are well positioned and “outgrowing their markets and [de Nardis] will be leading the strong management team already in place. He brings a wealth of experience to us in the international media buying and planning arena.”

Sources familiar with the situation said de Nardis and Courtier had worked well together running Mediaedge:cia after guiding the merger of the two agencies following WPP’s acquisition of CIA parent Tempus in 2002.

At the time of that merger, he was chief executive of CIA Worldwide.

Sources said the decision to leave was “his choice,” that he won’t be replaced and that Courtier would now run the shop alone.

Aegis CEO Robert Lerwill said the company needed an executive to manage global media holdings, which account for about two-thirds of Aegis’ revenue. Aegis’ research arm, Synovate (led by global CEO Adrian Chedore) generates the remaining third of revenue, Lerwill said.

As a result of the appointment, Carat Americas CEO David Verklin will report to de Nardis instead of Lerwill, although Lerwill noted that Verklin would remain on the Aegis board, “a reflection of his outstanding contributions” to the company.

Lerwill also confirmed that de Nardis has some contractual issues to work out with Mediaedge:cia before he can actually join Aegis. It was unclear when his starting date would be.

Separately, Bolloré has been steadily acquiring Aegis shares for nearly a month, and he has become the London-based company’s largest shareholder.

Aegis has confirmed holding preliminary talks to be acquired by both Publicis Groupe (which has since said it won’t make a formal bid) and WPP.

Should Bolloré’s stake in Aegis reach 30 percent, he would be required by U.K. takeover laws to make a bid for the company.