|Bollore Group has rekindled speculation about its Havas stock buying.
MAJOR HAVAS SHAREHOLDER UPS STAKE
Vincent Bollore Now Has 20% of Holding Company
Yesterday, Bollore Group announced it had consolidated all the Havas shares it had previously purchased through four of its entities and also that it has used a block of those shares to obtain a large loan.
Mr. Bollore has been buying shares of the Paris-headquartered Havas since summer and currently holds 86.4 million shares, worth approximately 350 million euros or $476 million, according to Bollore Group.
As required by French law, he has stated his intentions toward the company several times as his holdings have increased. In Sepember, when his holdings reached 10.4%, and in October, when they reached 20%, Mr. Bollore said he has no immediate plans to take over the company.
$272 million loan
Yesterday, the Bollore Group said it has used 55.1 million Havas shares as collateral for a 200 million euro ($272 million) bank loan. That money, a spokesman for Bollore Group said, will be used to invest in media-related businesses, which have been one of the Group's interests.
Another possibility is that Bollore Group will buy more Havas shares with the additional financing. A company spokesman would not comment on that possibility.
The lender to Bollore Group, described in a company press release as a "leading French financial establishment," is believed to be Paris-based Societe Generale. A spokeswoman for the bank would not comment on the institution's involvement.
Requests two board seats
Mr. Bollare has also requested two seats on Havas board, a request that is under consideration by Havas management.
Havas, led by chairman and CEO Alain de Pouzilhac, has pressed Mr. Bollore in recent weeks for clarification on his intentions toward the company. "If his intentions are for the good of Havas and shareholders, then more than likely the process [of selecting additional directors] will go smoothly," said one executive familiar with the company's thinking. "If he is interested in only a s hort-term investment in Havas" the process is likely to be more difficult, said the executive.
Mr. Bollore has in recent months also requested that Havas appoint separate management and supervisory boards. That request will not be considered until the next shareholders meeting, set for this spring.