Carat faces possible buyout as third of Aegis shares go on sale

Europe’s biggest media buying agency, Carat, has become a takeover target after it was announced last week that more than a third of the shares in its holding company, Aegis, will be up for grabs at the end of this month.

Europe’s biggest media buying agency, Carat, has become a takeover

target after it was announced last week that more than a third of the

shares in its holding company, Aegis, will be up for grabs at the end of

this month.



The news that three of Aegis’s largest shareholders are intending to

sell their stakes could pave the way for a full takeover bid for the

dollars 7 billion-billing company.



The shares are being sold by two venture capital companies, Warburg

Pincus and Electra Private Equity Partners, and by France’s Gross

family.



The stockbroker, Cazenove, is seeking potential buyers for the shares -

36.5 per cent of the total - and has been instructed to offer them to a

broad base of investors. However, analysts say the sale is an

opportunity for a predator to move in on the company by offering a

premium above the price, which is to be announced early next month.



As Europe’s largest media buying company, Aegis is likely to prove

attractive to any of the big agency networks, including Interpublic, WPP

and Omnicom, particularly those with a strong US base.



Aegis’s chief executive, Crispin Davis, dismissed speculation that the

sale would spark a takeover bid, saying any hostile move would be

ill-advised because of the risk it would pose to agency-client

relations.



’Management support is crucial,’ he added.



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