Bolloré Tightens Grip on Havas, Meets with de Pouzilhac

17 June 2005

Corporate raider Vincent Bolloré this week tightened his grip on French marketing communications multinational Havas, upping his 20.1% stake in the company to 22.01%.

This, together with the alliance struck with Sebastian Holdings, which owns 4% of Havas stock, gives the marauding Bolloré 26% of the voting stock and effective control of the group. The French bourse, scenting the sweet smell of mucho euros, licked its lips and nudged Havas shares up by 1.26% to €4.84 ($5.85; £3.21).

Meantime, hapless Havas chairman/ceo Alain de Pouzilhac was summoned to meet with his conqueror, although few details of the meeting emerged save for Bolloré's comment that he is "a bit surprised" at de Pouzilhac's decision to stay put. The group's management structure was also reportedly on the agenda.

The post-putsch Havas board is due to meet for the first time next Tuesday, when Bolloré will doubtless be quizzed as to his intentions for the company. These currently remain a matter of intense speculation, known only to the man himself and his acolytes.

If Bolloré is as good as his word that Havas will stay an independent entity (he is on record as saying his investment is long term), he and de Pouzilhac could make a formidable team.

The former's Obelix to the latter's Asterix the Gaul, as one fervid admirer of the French cartoon strip puts it.

Data sourced from BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff