French corporate raider Vincent Bolloré has reportedly been conducting cosy little têtes à têtes with Aegis Group, the London-headquartered holding company for global media buying network Carat.
French newspaper Les Echos reports that Bolloré is romancing the British media and research specialist, possibly with a view to acquiring a stake in the Carat operation.
Although the Frenchman's lips are zipped, there are no prizes for guessing his intention: to beef-up Havas' geographically patchy media planning and buying operation, either via an equity deal with Carat or an operational partnership.
Given the sensitivity of either option, it is unsurprising that Bolloré and his associates declined comment. Likewise Aegis.
The source of the rumour, yet again, is the well-informed (or perhaps intuitive) Les Echos, which reports that a deal encompassing media buying in six markets, is poised for completion by the end of January.
According to the newspaper, this would see Havas commanding media buying operations in France, Spain and Latin America, while Interpublic would direct these activities in the US, the UK and Germany.
Invited to comment on the Interpublic story, a Havas spokesman gave an impassive Gallic shrug: "It's a subject that comes up every two or three months, but there's no substance to it," he said.
Data sourced from mad.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff