While the rest of the western world slept off its post-festive torpor, French corporate raider Vincent Bolloré was back at his desk Monday, cementing his grip on Paris-headquartered global agency holding company Havas

In a ruthless pincer movement, Bolloré combined his entire crop of 86.4 million Havas shares into a single holding company, Bolloré Médias Investissements, at the same time raising a warchest of €22 million ($29.97m; £15.48m) via an unconfirmed share placing with French bank Société Générale.

According to reports, while the bank has agreed to retain the shares for five years, the associated voting rights remain with Bolloré - as do the dividends and capital risk.

Many onlookers now expect the financial warlord to increase his present 22.6% holding in Havas - although he has ignored repeated calls from the agency group's ceo Alain de Pouzilhac to declare his intentions.

And observers are still digesting news that broke two days before the planet closed down for the holidays - that Bolloré is tête à tête with Aegis Group, the London-headquartered holding company for global media buying network Carat [WAMN: 22-Dec-04].

Havas shares on the Paris Bourse rose 2.2% to €4.14 on Monday, valuing the group at around €1.8bn.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff