Bollore Fails in 5th Aegis Board Attempt

NEW YORK Vincent Bollore for the fifth time failed in an attempt to gain representation on the board of directors of U.K.-based holding company Aegis Group.

His latest effort was rebuffed today at Aegis’ general shareholders meeting in London.

Bollore — the largest single Aegis shareholder at 29 percent-plus — proposed two longtime associates, Philippe Germond and Roger Hatchuel, for seats.

Those nominees had been struck down in previous attempts — and today’s results mirrored past votes, with more than 90 percent of the non-Bollore-controlled shares opposing the bid.

Aegis management has opposed Bollore’s efforts based on conflict-of-interest issues stemming from the fact that he also serves as chairman of rival agency group Havas. Bollore has countered that no conflicts existed because the two nominees had no direct financial ties to his business interests.

Commenting on the outcome in a statement, Aegis chairman Colin Sharman said: “Today’s vote makes it crystal clear that the vast majority of independent shareholders voting recognize the innate conflict of interest represented by the nominees of a competitor’s chairman and largest shareholder. It is our hope that Groupe Bollore will finally listen to the voice of its fellow shareholders and respect shareholder democracy and good corporate governance.”

Bollore did not attend the meeting and was not immediately available for comment.

There has been recent speculation that Bollore is preparing to make a takeover bid for Aegis. Under British law, if his stake in the company reaches 30 percent, he would be required to make an offer for the entire company. His stake has hovered in the 29 percent range for more than a year.

Bollore has stated that he wishes to forge closer ties between Havas’ MPG media network and Aegis’ media operations, which include the Carat family of agencies. Aegis also owns the tech-focused Isobar network and research firm Synovate, among others.