Aegis to launch network

Aegis Group, owner of the Carat media network, is launching a second media network, called Vizeum, to include BBJ.

The agency will be rebranded Vizeum along with other media agencies across Europe, thought to include HMS in Germany and Horizons in Italy, that are not part of the existing Carat network.

Vizeum, to be launched in the second half of the year, will at first operate primarily in Europe until new offices are set up elsewhere.

Doug Flynn, chief executive of Aegis Group, says: "This move recognises the trend towards international mandates and offers clients greater opportunity to work with independent media agencies."

Aegis is also creating a new operating division, called Aegis Media, to which the media networks will report. The aim is that Aegis Media will maximise the use of shared services and internal resources, including media negotiation, information technology and finance.

It is likely that Carat Group UK, headed by Mark Craze, will be renamed Aegis Media.

Eric Drancourt, chairman of Carat International, will become chief executive officer of Vizeum and Martyn Rattle, vice-president of Carat International, will become chief operating officer.

Aegis published its year-end results for 2002 on Tuesday, showing that underlying profit before tax for the group was up 12.8 per cent to &£71.4m, with revenues up 11.9 per cent to &£591.9m.

Aegis is expected to make a play for NFO, the research company that has been put up for sale by the troubled Interpublic Group.

Taylor Nelson Sofres, formerly thought to be a suitor, has said it is no longer interested in NFO.

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