Is fear of a Vivendi bid behind Publicis and $5bn Epsilon?

If you think the Accenture/Droga5 tie-up is a big deal, think what may be happening in France.

Publicis is considering a $5bn offer for data firm Epsilon, its biggest potential deal so far and one that has spooked shareholders as $5bn is about 40 per cent of the French-owned group’s current market value. Its shares are producing a good imitation of WPP’s current travails.

Consultant Avi Dan of Avidan Strategies posits an even bigger French development in his Forbes column, to wit that Vivendi, which now owns Havas, will use the process of its mooted sale of a stake in Universal Music to buy its French rival. The Universal stake could be worth $20bn, double Publicis’ current market value. Avi reckons this might trigger other mergers such as Dentsu/Interpublic.

Vivendi is headed by Vincent Bolloré (below, with son Yannick who runs Havas) and buying Pubicis would be a satisfying way of turning the table on the venerable Havas’ much bigger French rival.

This alarming prospect (for Publicis) may, indeed, be behind CEO Arthur Sadoun’s potentially risky Epsilon venture.

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About Stephen Foster

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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.