David Jones, head of Euro RSCG and newly-annointed CEO of its holding company Havas has said that a move for media buying group Aegis, long the target of Havas chairman and majority shareholder Vincent Bollore, is now off the menu.
“Five years ago [Mr. Bollore] believed he needed to do Aegis in order to strengthen Havas. … I think he clearly believes today he no longer needs to do it, but he’s the person to ask about Aegis because it’s Vincent’s stake, not Havas’ stake,” Jones told Ad Age in an interview this week.
The real problem for Bollore and Havas is that Aegis is now actually bigger than Havas following strong organic growth, its deal to buy Australian media firm Mitchell Communications and heavy investment in its Synovate research arm.
But Jones told the US magazine that big acquisitions were still on the menu, indeed that he had 750m in Euros burning a hole in his pocket.
“We’ve completely turned around the business and addressed the financial structure and we’re ready to attack the next phase, which is how we spend this 750 million on acquisitions, and grow and take the company to the next level,” Jones said. “The last five years were on defense, and the next five-year period will be on offense.”
He also said that chairman Bollore planned to retire in 2022 which means that Jones, 44, will need to demonstrate a remarkable degree of patience if he’s to finish his spectacular career at Havas.
Most observers would expect his status to change before then, either through a merger which would see Havas combine with a major player (still, possibly, Aegis although such a cosy deal would almost certainly be stymied by one of the bigger holding companies) or by being tapped for CEO of WPP, Omnicom, Publicis Groupe (he’s a Francophile married to a Frenchwoman so he half qualifies) or Interpublic.
This writer’s money is on WPP (although 65-year old current CEO Sir Martin Sorrell could well go on for another 11 years himself).