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Bollore suggests he may raise his stake in Aegis

LONDON – Vincent Bollore, the Havas chairman, said today that he may raise his stake in Aegis again, reigniting the battle for the British media group.

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Bollore has been quiet on the Aegis front since he took his stake in Aegis to 25% in November. He raised it to 25.5% in January.

However, he told a press conference for his holding company Bollore Investissement today that raising the stake further was an option.

"All options are open. We could strengthen our stake in Aegis," he said.

Last year, the French corporate raider ruled out raising his stake in Aegis to more than 30%, the trigger point when he must make a full offer.

The comments by Bollore follow those of Sir Martin Sorrell, the WPP Group chief executive, earlier this year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, when he said he was still interested in buying media-buying rival Aegis and taking control of its market research business Synovate.

Sorrell abandoned a deal to buy Aegis with US private equity partner Hellman & Friedman in November. The plan would have seen WPP take control of the Aegis market research firm Synovate and take a small stake in the remaining media buying business while Bollore took control of media planning and buying operations Carat and Vizeum.

Under UK takeover panel rules, WPP must now wait until May before bidding again. A joint bid again with Bollore can not be ruled out.

In December, Bollore said: "We have the largest stake in Aegis. We have not invested for nothing, it's a financial stake. The game is open and we are open to reconsidering our position."

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