French corporate raider Vincent Bolloré remains insistent that "he has no current plans" to bid for Havas, the compatriot global marketing services group in which he has racked up a 22.6% holding with matching voting rights.
In a formal statement to the French press Wednesday, Groupe Bolloré reiterated its chairman's earlier statement adding, however, that it might continue to trade in the company's shares. The group also restated its demand for "several" seats on the Havas board.
Astute industry observers are unimpressed by the statement, which they see as meaningless in its opacity. Certainly it will do nothing to allay the concerns of Havas ceo Alain de Pouzilhac who has repeatedly asked Bolloré to elucidate his intentions.
"This [requested] clarification concerns the intentions regarding his stake in Havas' capital and his position with regards to the strategy formulated by the board of directors and implemented by Havas management", de Pouzilhac said last month.
Since when Bolloré has again moved aggressively, combining his entire crop of 86.4 million Havas shares into a single holding company, Bolloré Médias Investissements.
More significantly yet, Bolloré used the shares to raise a warchest of €22 million ($29.97m; £15.48m) via a placing with French bank Société Générale. The move coincided with the foxy financier's tête à tête with Aegis Group, the London-headquartered holding company for global media buying network Carat [WAMN: 22-Dec-04].
Media punters are said to be placing long odds bets on an interesting scenario: that Bolloré makes an agreed bid for Aegis which he will then reverse into Havas. Observez cet espace.
Data sourced from mad.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff