News that Havas Advertising is acquiring a 68% stake in its German affiliate Rempen & Partner signals the first step in a plan to relaunch its second European network, Campus, and expand it to key advertising markets outside Europe, including the U.S.
Alain de Pouzilhac, chairman-CEO of Havas Advertising, said the second network will be the opposite of a conventional global network with offices in all markets. Instead, it will operate like a federation of 12 agencies with strong personalities of their own.
The 3-year-old holding company is flexing its muscles now because of last year's successful bond conversion, which eliminated its debt, Mr. de Pouzilhac said.
TROUBLES IN '98
Only last March, Havas' main shareholder Compagnie Generale des Eaux, now called Vivendi, was talking about shedding its advertising holdings to focus on multimedia activities like European pay-TV network Canal Plus.
At that time, Havas Advertising faced pressures to merge with an international partner. But today, Havas Advertising is free to merge or acquire agencies to fill in gaps, according to Mr. de Pouzilhac.
There are ongoing discussions with some U.S. networks, but he declined to provide details.
Not content with boosting its flagship network, which this year bought New York-based Jordan McGrath Case & Partners, Havas is relaunching Campus with the help of Rempen & Partner.
The German agency, with offices in Duesseldorf and Munich, is ranked 27th in Germany with 1997 gross income of $18 million and billings of $123 million.
Founded in 1994, the agency remains under the management of Chairman Thomas Rempen and has yet to find its footing. Its clients include Dresdner Bank, Holsten Breweries, Microsoft Corp. and Siemens.
Campus ranks 22nd in Europe, with 1997 billings of $443 million and gross income of $55 million, compared to Havas' other network, No. 1 ranked Euro RSCG with European billings of $3.9 billion and $587 million in gross income.
Campus handles only a few European accounts like Alcatel.
On Feb. 1, 1996, Havas Advertising announced the formation of the Campus network out of the independent agency Rempen & Partner and four agencies that Euro RSCG had stakes in: Ata-Tonic, Milan; Australie, Paris; Ruiz Nicoli, Madrid; and WCRS, London.
Today, Campus remains in the four original markets except Spain, where it ended its agency relationship last year.
EXPANSION IN SPAIN
Campus soon will announce further acquisitions in Spain, and others extending the network beyond Europe to Brazil and Singapore and the U.S., where Mr. de Pouzilhac said it is talking with several agencies.
The restructuring of the network should be completed by yearend with an agency in Japan, while in France the agreement with Australie is being broadened.
The two key ideas behind the restructuring are the creation of an international partnership between agencies with strong creative reputations, with that network operating in only a dozen key countries representing more than 80% of world ad