Last big independent media player Aegis goes as it agrees to £3bn sale to Japan’s Dentsu

Well we didn’t see this one coming.

Aegis, the global media planning and buying group, has agreed a $3.16bn sale to Japanese marcoms giant Dentsu, owner of the Mcgarrybowen creative agency.

The 240p a share offer is a 48 per cent premium to yesterday’s share price in London which valued the company at £1.9bn. So, with media markets stuttering in the midst of a global ad slowdown, Aegis CEO Jerry Buhlmann (left) and his board had little option but to say yes to the bid.

Aegis owns the Carat and Vizeum media agencies and also the Isobar digital network. It’s awash with cash after selling market researcher Synovate to French firm Ipsos for over £500m last year.

Dentsu is also not short of readies having been bought out of its non-performing partnership with Publicis Groupe late last year. However £3.16bn is still a chunky offer.

It remains to be seen if any of Dentsu’s rivals – WPP, Omnicom, Publicis Groupe, Interpublic or Havas – will try to spoil the party. Havas majority owner Vincent Bollore owns just under 30 per cent of Aegis and his decision on whether or not to sell will be critical.

It’s also possible that a private equity giant might throw its hat in the ring.


The Guardian reports that Bolllore has sold a 15 per cent stake to Dentsu on Thursday and has agreed to sell a further five per cent. Aegis shares rocketed to 236p in early trading in London against Dentsu’s 240p offer price, suggesting that investors (including Bollore) think it’s possible another bid could emerge. Here’s Dentsu CEO Tadashi Ishii with Jerry Buhlmann, looking happy.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.