Havas Plans Modest Steps on Acquisition Path

29 December 2006

PARIS: Executives at French advertising services conglomerate Havas say they are once again in the market for acquisitions. The group, which owns Euro RSCG and Arnold among others, has amassed a €270 million ($354m; £181m) war chest to buy up smaller shops which can be integrated into its existing line-up.

Cfo Hervé Philippe remains zip-lipped over possible targets, but industry experts believe digital agencies will be at the top of the shopping-list.

Comments UK university professor Robert Willott: "Havas has no serious presence in digital at all. That's a weakness for them."

Acquisitions have been a sore point for the group following the ousting last year of chairman Alain de Pouzilhac. During his tenure he led the company on a buying spree which eventually saw Havas post a €396m loss in 2003.

Under the current chairman, controversial French entrepreneur Vincent Bolloré, fortunes have improved. Havas was ranked second for winning new accounts in 2006, according to broker Bear Stearns. Among new clients were UK cleaning products maker Reckitt Benckiser and French cellphone network SFR.

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