Havas Plays it Cool, Trumps WPP’s Stake in Tempus

22 August 2001

In the wake of WPP Group’s £5.55 a share counterbid for Tempus Group on Monday, Havas Advertising’s chief executive Alain de Pouzilhac yesterday kept his cards pinned to his chest and demonstrated that he is no pushover, even for as seasoned a warrior as Sir Martin Sorrell.

Announcing a strong increase in Havas’ underlying revenues, up 5.5% in the first half compared with WPP’s 3% reported the previous day, de Pouzilhac was in no hurry to display his next hand: “I'm a laborious man. I need to think about it a lot,” the avid French rugby fan told reporters, adding “I am always confident when I play a match.”

His confidence probably rests on the fact that he now holds irrevocable assurances for 29.2% of Tempus stock, trumping the 22% held by WPP.

However, the majority of shares committed to Havas are held by Tempus management and it is uncertain which way other major shareholders in the media and branding group might jump. But industry onlookers are convinced that Havas will better WPP’s offer, probably before the end of this week.

Havas also reported a rise in turnover of nearly 50% with billings hiked by 49.8% to £4.7billion.

News source: Financial Times; CampaignLive (UK)