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Bollore renews effort to win Aegis board seats

LONDON - Vincent Bollore, Havas chairman, has written to Lord Sharman, the chairman of Aegis, calling for a shareholder meeting to reassert his request for seats on the board.

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Bollore was defeated in his request for seats on the Aegis in June when shareholders voted against his two nominees on the advice of the Aegis board and Robert Lerwill, the company's chief executive and chairman.

Just over a week ago Bollore, who owns a 29.12% share of Aegis and is the media and market research group's biggest shareholder, told French radio station BFM today that he would continue to press the board for the positions, earmarked for Bollore's preferred candidates Philippe Germond and Roger Hatchuel.

Bollore said: "It's a long love affair. As the main shareholder with a 29% stake, we want board representation. We will wait for as long as it takes."

His renewed comments in relation to Aegis follow the news that it had won the £400m pan-European GM account from Interpublic Group agencies Universal and Initiative.

This morning Havas reported a 38% fall in profits to €21m (£14.2m) during the first half of this year, compared with €34m during the first half of 2005.

Profits plummeted, despite the network recording a 2.8% boost in its revenues to €719m, up from €700m during the first half of 2005.

The group, which owns creative agencies Euro RSCG Worldwide and Arnold Worldwide Partners along with global media network Media Planning Group, recorded new-business wins of €900m for the first half of the year compared with €500m during the first half of 2005.

The total included creative account wins for pan-European duties on Disneyland Paris, and the media business for De Agostini publishers in the UK and computer games company Eidos, which makes the Lara Croft 'Tomb Raider' games, in the UK, France and Germany.

Fernando Rodes Vila, chief executive of Havas, said: "The group continues firm in its strategy of investing in creativity and quality by bringing in new talents to serve its clients. Senior executives of the Havas Group are focusing on these two factors to drive organic growth on a sustainable basis, while giving the fullest consideration to the needs and expectations of all the group's clients and partners.

"This is a strategy that can only be implemented over time and its effects, while already perceptible, will become increasingly apparent in the future."

Speaking at a news conference, Rodes Vila added: "We are where we wanted to be for the first-half... even if we are not proud of these results."

He added: "This team works with a 2008 horizon. In 2007, we will have a profitability level above that of 2006 with a two-year target of coming close to our rivals."

By the end of 2006, Rodes Vila says he expects operating income to be double that of the first half and revenue to be "a little above" double that of the first half.

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