Bollore Tries Again With Aegis

NEW YORK Vincent Bollore will try for a fifth time to win two seats on the board of directors of Aegis Group at the London-based agency holding company’s general shareholders meeting on May 23.

Bollore, who is the largest single Aegis shareholder at 29 percent-plus, is once more proposing longtime business associates Philippe Germond and Roger Hatchuel for the seats.
Aegis said it would issue a position statement at a later date. On each of the previous four occasions, the company recommended that shareholders vote down the Bollore candidates because of the conflict of interest posed by Bollore’s controlling interest in competitor Havas, where he serves as chairman.

In each of the previous four votes, shareholders have rejected the Bollore proposals by margins exceeding 90 percent of the non-Bollore votes.

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-plus percent range for more than a year.

Last month, WPP Group CEO Martin Sorrell, in an interview with a European publication, predicted Bollore would make a run at Aegis this year. WPP had conversations with Bollore and Aegis about two years ago — but the talks did not lead to a deal. WPP’s main interest was not Aegis, but the holding company’s research arm Synovate. The company also owns the Carat media agency network.

Havas CEO Fernando Rodes Vila also weighed in last month in an interview with the Times Online in which he said he “knows for certain” that Havas and Aegis would “create value if they were put together.”

As for Bollore, Rodes Vila said, “Aegis will one day or another be sold and, knowing Vincent Bollore as I do, he’s the kind of person who will never quit.”