WPP, Bolloré May Team in Aegis Bid

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.