Publicis, which recently agreed to acquire U.S. interactive agency giant Digitas for $1.3 billion, issued a statement denying the rumors as "unfounded." Although Publicis made a tepid, but rejected friendly offer to acquire Aegis more than a year ago, in November Chairman Maurice Levy said Publicis would not make another run at Aegis as long as Vincent Bollore, chairman of rival Havas, was a major shareholder.
Bollore controls a 29.12% stake in Aegis, just below a trigger that would force him to make a formal takeover bid.
Previous speculation has focused on WPP Group aligning with Havas for a takeover of Aegis. WPP is believed to be keen on acquiring Aegis' Synovate research operations, while Aegis' media networks - Carat, Vizeum, Isobar and Posterscope - would bolster Havas' media services operations, principally MPG.