NEWS14 June 2006

Aegis shareholders thwart Bolloré board bid

Investors vote down Havas chairman Vincent Bolloré’s attempt to secure two board seats at the media and market research group

Havas chairman Vincent Bolloré’s attempts to secure two board seats at Aegis were thwarted today at the media and market research group’s annual general meeting.

Shareholders voted against the nominations of Philippe Germond, former president of telecoms firm Alcatel, and Roger Hatchuel, an ex-chairman of the Cannes Lions advertising festival.

Bolloré made his play for board representation after becoming the single largest shareholder in Aegis, with a stake of 29%.

Aegis had called on investors to reject the nominations, arguing that Bolloré’s position as chairman and largest shareholder in French ad group Havas – “a major competitor” – represented a fundamental conflict of interest.

Speaking after today’s vote, Aegis chairman Lord Sharman said: “We hope that the suggestion of board representation for a single shareholder so closely connected to a competitor can now be put behind us.”

Bolloré, however, may not be so easily defeated as he is thought to be keen on orchestrating a tie-up between Havas’ Media Planning Group and Aegis’ media buying agencies, Carat and Vizeum.

According to a report by the Guardian, Bolloré plans to use his position as Aegis’ largest shareholder to seek an extraordinary general meeting, where he will again ask shareholders to vote in favour of granting him board representation. The EGM could take place as soon as September.

• Synovate – the market research arm of Aegis – has seen revenues grow 36% in the first quarter of the year, according to Lord Sharman’s AGM statement. Growth was 7.8% on an organic basis.

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Bolloré hits back at Aegis board snub with new share buy