London-headquartered Cordiant Communications denied this weekend it is in merger discussions with French global network Havas – the world’s sixth largest agency network.

On Sunday, UK national newspaper The Observer reported that Havas had made a €1 billion offer for Cordiant – the holding company for the Bates Worldwide and 141 Worldwide global agency networks. But a Cordiant spokesperson later claimed to be “unaware” of talks with Havas “at any time during the past six months”.

Havas, which recently rebranded by dropping ‘Advertising’ from its title [WAMN: 24-May-02] , has been amassing an acquisition war-chest. Last month it floated a €350 million ($316.22m; £217.95m) convertible bond on the Paris bourse with the dual aim of beefing-up the structure of its extant debt and funding future acquisitions [WAMN: 16-May-02] .

Cordiant has been seen as a potential takeover target for several months. Its 2001 pre-tax profits halved to £25.7 million and speculation heightened when in April it warned that revenues were unlikely to increase during the current fiscal.

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff