Havas Reports Record Results, Stirs New Aegis Speculation

Fueled by improving financial performance, Paris-based Havas may be preparing a new run at London-based rival Aegis Group. In an interview in French paper Le Figaro, Havas Chairman Vincent Bollore indicated he might make a new push to gain control of the Aegis board following the release of Aegis annual results on March 19th. Bollore, who is Aegis' largest shareholder, controlling 29.9% of the company's stock, has been rebuffed in several previous attempts to gain seats on the Aegis board.

In his interview with Le Figaro, Bollore said he has not sought a new shareholders meeting to avoid stirring things up, but said he would wait for the release of Aegis' annual results to "react." He added, "If they [the results] disappoint and if Aegis chief executive Robert Lerwill continues to say that everything is going well, it will be like heading for a brick wall while blaring your horn."

The interview appeared to be carefully timed to generate press coverage following the release of Havas' own strong year-end results, which revealed a continuous improvement in its organic growth.



Havas Monday reported group revenues of $2.37 billion, reflecting a record 7.1% rate of organic growth. Havas' organic growth rate has improved consistently throughout 2007, posting rate of 3.2%, 5.4%, 9.3% and 9.8%, respectively each quarter.

Havas did no break out its operational results, but in previous statements the company has indicated that its media operations including Havas Media and Havas Digital have been among its strongest recent performers.

Although Havas and Aegis have previously held discussions about various merger scenarios, Havas CEO Fernando Rodes Vila said as recently as a December 2007 analyst's conference in New York that there had been no recent discussions between he two companies.

During an analysts call on Monday, he said, "We still think that it is worth studying very carefully some sort of association between these two groups. We are very confident that together they can create some value for shareholders.''

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