Editorial: Last dance is a long way off for Bollore and Aegis

The stand-off between Vincent Bollore and Aegis over the Havas chairman's demand for boardroom representation is becoming more like a ritualised Elizabethan courtly dance. Indeed, it has come to resemble the pavane, a processional dance in which couples paraded around the hall in a pattern of familiar steps while lightly touching hands.

Each Aegis extraordinary general meeting has a similar choreography. The parties smile politely and make small talk over coffee. The meeting begins with Lord Sharman, the Aegis chairman, explaining why Bollore should not be given what he wants. Bollore then argues why he should.

In minutes it's over. Bollore, facing defeat again, is corralled by journalists and vows to keep calling EGMs until he wins. And that seems as far off as ever after his resounding rebuff for the third time last week, when 93 per cent of shares not controlled by Group Bollore were used against him.

So why keep coming back? Probably because Bollore can afford to play the long game. The current healthy state of Aegis (and its share price) makes it unlikely that Bollore will try to enlarge his current 29 per cent stake and mount a bid for the company. Even if he decides to divest, he could still exit with a significant profit. For the moment, though, he seems likely to keep nagging Aegis in the hope of engineering a friendly takeover, which would give Havas the necessary critical mass to match its Publicis Groupe rival.

Much may depend on the effect of the management changes he has made at Havas. Should they succeed and Aegis hits a rocky patch, he may be hoping the media group's shareholders will throw their lot in with him after all.

However, it's hard to argue with the uncompromising approach taken by the Aegis board. Bollore's argument that his two boardroom nominees, Roger Hatchuel and Philippe Germond, will not be there to safeguard his interests is hard to sustain. If that's the case, why put them forward?

There's no doubting Bollore's high ambition. The chance to become France's next media mogul is a seductive one. But the fact remains that he is a relative newcomer to the world he hopes to dominate. Havas will be his proving ground.