New owner to keep Havas Advertising unit

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The anticipated buyout of Havas by its major shareholder, Generale des Eaux, was announced March 9 with guarantees that Havas Advertising (which includes the Euro RSCG and Campus advertising agency networks) will not be sold off.

"Not one share of Havas Advertising is for sale," said Jean-Marie Messier, Generale des Eaux chairman, in announcing the takeover. "Havas Advertising is a strong group with very talented people. It will remain part of the group and provide an excellent window to what consumers want and expect in our other activities."

In a complicated transaction, Havas, which includes other sizable business units in addition to Euro RSCG, would be valued at slightly more than $3.8 billion. The GdE takeover bid will be presented to the general assemblies of Havas and Generale des Eaux for a vote on May 11.

Structurally, the merged company will be divided into two basic sections: GdE's work in water services and construction, and a communications group. The communications division will include a telecommunications unit, an audiovisual group and an affiliate called Havas, which will consist of the company's publishing, multi-media, online and advertising activities.

Commenting Havas Advertising, newly named Havas President Eric Licoys denied reports the unit was destined for sale, stressing, "it's unfair to ask a company to operate under the suspicion that it does not have the long-term backing of its primary shareholder. I am stating here and now that Havas Advertising has all our support."

Havas Advertising Chairman Alain de Pouzilhac later stated tha his agency's hunt for a U.S. advertising partner was still progressing. "Contrary to what has been said recently," Mr. De Pouzilhac said, "we are staying in the Havas family, and preparing our own future in the search for industry partners."

Copyright March 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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