Viva La Difference: Aegis Acquires French Agency, Claims Media Dominance

The French may be circling around Aegis Group, but the U.K.-based agency holding company this morning announced the acquisition of Implicom, a Paris-based shop specializing in sales promotion and direct marketing media.

With gross assets of about $4.6 million, the 15-year-old agency will be aligns with Aegis' Aegis Media unit, the division that oversees media networks like Carat, Isobar, Vizeum and Posterscope, and which also happens to be dominant media buyer in France.

"Its expertise will help us further broaden our market-leading offer in France, where Aegis Media is the number one player," said Aegis Group CEO Robert Lerwill, adding that Implicom would become part of an "integrated" offering.

The acquisition signals that, contrary to some industry perceptions, Aegis is not a lame duck acquisition target, but continues to be an acquirer of agency assets. It also is a bit ironic, because Aegis' root are as a French-based media buying shop once known as Carat Espace, whose previous media buying practices ran afoul of French business laws and was ultimately restructured as British-based Aegis Group.

Over the past couple of years, Aegis has been the subject of takeover speculation from both of France's leading agency holding companies: Publicis and Havas. Publicis ultimately took a pass, and has gone on to acquire U.S. assets such as Digitas, but Havas Chairman Vincent Bollore remains the largest shareholder in Aegis Group and is still considered an ardent suitor.

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