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Now Bollore stitches €500m O2 Havas media deal

Vincent-Bollore-007French tycoon Vincent Bollore, newly installed as chairman of huge media conglomerate Vivendi (it owns Canal+ among others) seems to have rediscovered an interest in advertising too.

Hot on the heels of announcing he plans to tender for more shares in Havas – now helmed by his son Yannick – taking the family’s share to over 50 per cent, he seems to have used his contacts to wrench the whopper €500m O2 media account out of long-serving agency ZenithOptimedia. Bollore struck the deal with Telefonica chairman Cesar Alierta apparently. Bollore and Alierta are pals as Vivendi sold Telefonica its Brazil mobile business earlier this year.

ZenithOptimedia is owned by Publicis Groupe, Havas’ long-time French rival. Publicis boss Maurice Levy will not be feeling quite so friendly towards Bollore and Alierta although it doesn’t seem there’s much he can do about it. Levy, though, also has connections that go right to the heart of the French business establishment and, indeed, government. So he may well cry ‘foul.’

Whatever ensues, it’s a funny old business when such a huge account moves for no apparent reason other than a private deal between the owners of two mega-companies. Must be pretty demoralising for ZO, which has been showing signs of life recently after a turbulent year or two. And, in a way, for Havas Media which doesn’t, on the face of it, seem to have won the account on its merits.

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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.

One comment

  1. Considering that ZO worked with O2 since 1991 and there is no apparent reason for the dismissal, I wonder if Mr. Bollore and Mr. Alierta are aware how damaged their integrity is now. Mr. Alierta is not even O2’s CMO and has no idea what the results ZO has achieved. As a shareholder of O2, I would definitely demand an explanation from him.

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