Bolloré Loses 2nd Board Bid

BOSTON French financier Vincent Bolloré today was thwarted for a second time in his quest to gain representation on the board of U.K. agency holding company Aegis Group.

The defeat had been expected following a similar failed attempt by Bolloré to gain seats in June during Aegis’ annual meeting [Adweek Online, June 14].

Bolloré ranks as Aegis’ largest single shareholder and also serves as chairman of Pairs-based rival Havas.

At an extraordinary general meeting today in London, Aegis shareholders voted down proposals to install Bolloré associates Philippe Germond and Roger Hatchuel on the company’s board.

The final vote was 58.5 percent against both resolutions.

According to Aegis, more than 94 percent of the votes not controlled by Bolloré were cast against the resolutions.

More than 77 percent of all eligible votes were cast.

In an almost identical outcome in June, Aegis shareholders voted 58 percent against giving Bolloré seats on its board.

“The overall message is as clear now as it was earlier this year,” said Lord Sharman, chairman of Aegis. “Board representation for a shareholder with close connections to a competitor is simply inappropriate.”

Representatives of Bolloré could not immediately be reached for comment.

Bolloré’s investment in Aegis is managed separately from Havas. He owns about 29 percent of Aegis and under U.K. takeover laws, if his ownership surpasses 30 percent, he would have to make a formal bid for the company.

Bolloré has expressed interest in merging Aegis’ media units with those of Havas.

Aegis’ media groups are Carat and Vizeum; it also owns high-tech network Isobar and research unit Synovate.

Havas’ main media operation is MPG; the company also owns ad agencies Arnold and Euro RSCG.

Bolloré has a potential rival for Aegis: Maurice Lévy, chairman and CEO of Paris-based Publicis Groupe.

Lévy in recent weeks has said he is considering an acquisition, and he made overtures to Aegis last year, floating a potential bid that was valued close to $3 billion.

Bolloré controls enough Aegis shares to veto any deal.