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International: WPP eyes Aegis acquisition; teams with equity firm in counter move against Publicis

06-October-2005
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International: WPP eyes Aegis acquisition; teams with equity firm in counter move against Publicis

Publicis Groupe has at least one rival in its takeover bid for Aegis Group: WPP Group is teaming with private equity firm, Hellman & Friedman, in taking a look at Aegis.

In a statement to shareholders on Tuesday morning, Aegis said that it had met with more than one “potential offeror to share non-public information on the company.” Aegis added that there could be no certainty that any offer would be made for the company.

Executives close to the situation identified the interested party as WPP and said that it was lining up a bid with private equity firm Hellman & Friedman. It is believed that WPP’s main interest is in Aegis’ research company, Synovate, and that Hellman & Friedman is eyeing Carat, its global media buying and planning entity.

Analysts have also cited Omnicom Group as a potentially interested suitor in Aegis. WPP, Omnicom and Publicis declined to comment. Publicis last week confirmed that it had had discussions with Aegis, but made no offer.

Speculation about Aegis’s future has been mounting since Vincent Bollore, Chairman of French advertising group Havas, started building a stake in Aegis in August. This week he increased his stake in Aegis to 12.63 per cent, making him Aegis’ largest shareholder and giving him enough shares to have influence over the future of the London-based company.

Source: AdAge.com

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