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Vincent Bollore bids for majority stake in Havas

French Tycoon Vincent Bollore, the biggest shareholder in marcoms group Havas with about 36 per cent, is offering a share swap in his family conglomerate Bollore Group which would take his share in Havas to over 50 per cent – effectively making it part of the diversified Bollore empire.

Vincent-Bollore-007Bollore (left) is already chairman and the biggest shareholder in French media group Vivendi and the family business owns lots of other stuff, including electric cars in Paris. Vincent recently installed son Yannick as CEO of Havas, replacing Brit David Jones.

A few years ago Bollore was out-manouevered when his plans to merge media agency Carat owner Aegis with Havas were confounded by Aegis’s rapidly rising share price and eventual sale to Japan’s Dentsu for £3.6bn. Bollore, who owned about 28 per cent, trousered a mountain of cash but lost out in his bid to build a worldwide global marcoms outfit to rival Omnicom, WPP and long-time French adversary Publicis Groupe.

Havas, currently, is rather under-powered in the global marcoms stakes, worth £2.2bn against WPP’s market cap of £17bn. But it has a strong position in France, with BETC to add to Havas. Its Arena media business in the UK is also successful.

Many observers expected Bollore to try to bring Havas into the orbit of his other big interest Vivendi. This new deal, if it goes through, would make such a move easier. But Bollore, who hardly needs the money, may decide to go it alone with Havas.

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We’ll see. In the meantime, what of former Havas boss David Jones? He was supposed to be setting up an online social media business connected to good causes.

Nearly a year in this hasn’t surfaced. But it’s unlikely that the talented Jones has decided to retire.

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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.
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