Havas chairman/ceo Alain de Pouzilhac, interviewed Tuesday after posting lacklustre second quarter results [see Financial Roundup, below], played it cool when asked if the acquisition of Grey Global Group [WAMN: 27-Jul-04] was crucial to sustaining its US presence.

Although conceding that grafting Grey onto its stateside businesses -- hard hit by account losses in last year's second half -- would help buttress Havas' faltering fortunes in the globe's largest advertising market, de Pouzilhac told the Financial Times he was ambivalent about a bid.

A key factor, he admitted, is the repayment of a €666m ($802.6m; £439.95m) convertible bond due in 2006. Implying that Havas may first need to consolidate its debt in order to fund a successful takeover of Grey, de Pouzilhac added: "We would be stupid not to look at it [a bid]."

Havas' North American networks include Euro RSCG Worldwide and Arnold Worldwide, whose client roster is not thought to contain any major conflicts with the jewel in Grey's crown, Procter & Gamble.

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