Havas Back in the Black, Attempts Bolloré Checkmate

04 March 2005

Havas ceo Alain de Pouzilhac has moved to baulk the takeover threat that has hung for months over the Paris-headquartered marketing services giant.

He has recruited one hundred and fifty of the group's largest shareholders to form an anti-takeover bloc - or as de Pouzilhac prefers to call it, a "shareholders club".

But unlike the rose that ... "by any other name would smell as sweet," a 'shareholders club' by any moniker is a move to checkmate Havas' largest shareholder, French corporate raider Vincent Bolloré.

The financier, having amassed a 20% stake in Havas, maintains an enigmatic silence as to his intentions and his presence hangs over Havas like the proverbial specter at the wedding.

Bolloré may make his takeover move at Havas' annual meeting in May, de Pouzilhac believes. The raider, true to form, is saying nothing.

Meantime, some much needed good news for Havas shareholders. On Thursday the group announced it had returned to the black in 2004, posting a net profit of €34 million ($44.64m; £23.38m) versus a loss of €396 million in 2003.

Says de Pouzilhac: "The 'shareholders club' will see that they can be more confident about management. We want to convince the people why our performance in 2004 reflects the fruits of our strategic organization, and try to explain what our organization is about."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff