Sell-off buzz for Aegis as chief executive Lerwill announces departure

Aegis has parted company with boss Robert Lerwill following a row over his stewardship of the advertising group.

The chief executive will leave by the end of the week with a 'golden goodbye' of up to £650,000 after falling out with new chairman John Napier.

Lerwill's departure reawakened hopes that Aegis will be sold or broken up, sending its shares soaring 9¼p or 19 per cent to 59p.

The most likely bidder is Vincent Bollore, the chairman of French rival Havas, who owns 29 per cent and has been fighting Lerwill for seats on the Aegis
board for almost three years.

Robert Lerwill

Unhappy departure: Aegis CEO Robert Lerwill is leaving after disagreements with new chairman John Napier

Alex de Groote of Panmure Gordon said: 'My guess is that Bollore will now force a coming together of Havas and Aegis.'

Merging Aegis with Havas would save tens of millions of pounds at a time when companies are slashing their marketing budgets amid the deepening economic gloom.

Since taking the chair in June, Napier has been exploring ways to revive Aegis' flagging share price.

These include seeking a rapprochement with Bollore – a move that met with strong resistance from Lerwill, said sources.

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