Aegis turns Japanese in £3.2bn deal

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A MEDIA planning firm that works for clients including Coca-Cola, Disney and Adidas is to be taken over by a Japanese company in a £3.2bn deal.

London-based Aegis, which was set up in 1968 and owns the Carat agency, will become part of the biggest media and digital communications group in Asia and the second largest in Europe following the tie-up with Tokyo-based advertising giant Dentsu.

The deal’s backers hope the combination of Aegis’s expertise in media planning and buying and Dentsu’s advertising might will challenge the likes of Sir Martin Sorrell’s global WPP empire and US group Omnicom.

The takeover news surprised the City and led to a 46 per cent jump in shares of FTSE 250 Index listed Aegis. Dentsu is offering 240p a share, which is a 48 per cent premium on Wednesday night’s share price.

Aegis employs around 12,000 people and generated revenues of more than £1bn in its last financial year, while Dentsu has nearly 22,000 staff and a presence in 29 countries. Its revenues were £2.5bn last year.

Jerry Buhlmann, chief executive of Aegis, said: “This is a compelling combination of two great businesses that will create one of the world’s most dynamic marketing services groups – and the first to be born in the digital age.”

He added: “By forming the first communications group with true global reach, the growth strategies of both businesses will be enhanced as we provide more scale, geography, capability and investment to support clients.”

Mr Buhlmann has agreed to remain with the group until at least 2013 following the takeover and Dentsu said it had no plans to change Aegis’ workforce or move its London operation.

Aegis’ biggest shareholder, French billionaire Vincent Bollore, has sold a 15 per cent stake in the business to Dentsu and will sell the company a further 5 per cent as part of the takeover.